A night to escape from the realities of our poor country

September 24, 2009


So, tonight, as most people in Venezuela watch either Miss Venezuela or Larry King interviewing the Dictator (or both by switching channels), I think about this uneventful day in Venezuela when:

1) The 12th victim of the Chlorine spill died today. So far, only the truck driver has been jailed and I suspect nobody else will ever be jailed for this. Neither the PDVSA people who allowed the truck to be driven unsafely through Venezuela, nor the ones that did not secure the cylinders, nor the traffic people that allow all drivers to go 30-40% above the speed limit, nr the local authorities that allowed the highway to have potholes and deteriorate, nor the Government officials that allowed the hospitals to deteriorate (We are all responsible said Hugo, he should be charged too!) to such an extent that the Clarines hospital did not have the supplies to take care of those affected by the accident.

Thus, the driver becomes the “Chino de Recadi” the only man jailed in a chain of irresponsible of events where the driver was probably the weakest link. To his credit, he even tried to drive the truck away from Clarines but the truck went into the drain.

2) Yesterday or the day before there was a shoot out in El Valle in South Western Caracas. A total of ten people were killed by the police (El Nacional page C-8). The mother of the person the police were looking for acknowledges that her son was not a saint, but she says at least five of those killed were innocent. Some in the barrio say the cops routinely go in the barrio and kill kids at will. Other say the cops stole stuff from their home.

What kind of country have we become when the police can kill ten people like that and there is no outcry?

3) The number of new malaria cases is already higher in 2009 than it was in 2008. There have been 22,183 cases so far in 2009. Ten years ago, there were 16,686. For the first time in twenty years, there have been malaria cases detected in urban areas. In 1999 there was a whole department in charge of containing malaria, that department was shut down in 2001, its programs dismantled. I really have no idea if they are back.

Malaria used to be a priority, dengue too, the number of deaths from dengue is up 31% year over year. And these are official numbers. The real numbers from swine flu are anybody’s guess, the country has one of the lowest incidences per inhabitant in Latin America, according to official figures.

4) The Venezuelan Federal Medical Association says that it is not 2,000 Barrio Adentro modules that are closed, but 4,800. So much for the showcase of the Chavez administration.

5) In the proposed weapons law, citizens may only buy up to 50 bullets a year. I guess they want the estimated 6 million weapons to be limited to killing the whole population of Venezuela.

6) According to ONG’s Provea and Espacio Publico, both with impeccable credentials, there have been 2,079 protests so far this year in Venezuela. Of these 130 have been repressed by the authorities. Those repressed yielded six people killed, 461 injured and 440 people jailed. 70% of the protests are labor related, but the pattern seems to be independent of the type of protest.

This is the Venezuela that according to Chavez will change the world. This is the socialism that will be expanded everywhere. This is the bizarre country that we are putting up with and living in.

So dance with Miss Venezuela and/or watch Hugo lie in CNN. We have got to escape somehow.

Truly bizarre…

29 Responses to “A night to escape from the realities of our poor country”

  1. Kepler Says:

    HalfEmpty, by all means Fox News and cnn should exist, even Telesur or VTV, for all I care, but if new channels or real options come, I hope they are more like ZDF, we have enough of the other lot. I believe such a channel would promote competition.

    ZDF and ARD are far from perfect but they give a different and refreshing perspective. Geha, another commentator here and in ccs has also written about the same issue, he knows the German media well.
    Some of the things I appreciate in those channels:

    – you actually see very high ranking officials discussing with the leaders of several parties or highly different political positions. It helps Germany is not a de facto “just two party system”. Even if I dislike the commies, I appreciate seeing conservative Angela Merkel (chancellor), SPD boss Muentefering (social democrat), the leader of the Liberals (not the same as in the US) and even a communist as Sarah Wagenknecht plus a leading ecologist discussing in the same show at the same time.
    In the Americas the best thing I have seen are minor figures in some obscure show OR a debate between the two major parties in the US or the debates of primaries. It does not help the Green party in the US is full of people who believe in all sorts of conspiracy theories, from man not landing on the Moon to Sep 11 being an inside job.

    – journalists reporting about the Middle East or Africa or Latin America have done their homework well in advance, they almost always speak fluently the language of the place they are reporting about and not because they happen to be the children of someone from there who may be too close to be objective, like a Maronite with some past, or one whose father was enjoying the Shah regime like a Christiane Amanpour.

    For me it was amazing to watch the American and the German TV between 11.9.2001 and the invasion of Iraq. On one side you had mostly Amanpour and worse, some journalists with a crash course on Middle East. On the other side you had journalists who had been writing about the area for ages, who had studied there, who spoke the languages
    We saw the whole show coming about the WMD.

    And mind: the German TV was also reporting about how the German government irresponsibly sold this and that to Saddam Hussein before he stopped being the friend of the West and they did that very early on. They even interviewed people of the companies that had been selling chemicals there, etc…and that was state TV, but a very independent state TV, for that matter.

    Or take the Orange and Rose Revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia. There was a lot of help from Soros and other US interest groups there and that is no secret. Even very conservative Scholl-Latour (a usual guest in ZDF) reported on that with lots of details. I mentioned that to a Venezuelan student who was among those in the marches in Venezuela just befoe going into something else and she said I was just believing the “lefty propaganda”. I actually have friends who have family in Ukraine and can confirm what the definitely not lefty Scholl-Latour and many others reported on. We are not even discussing whether the US/UK/Mars/whatever help in Ukraine to set up the protest movements was good or bad.

    There are more channels than ZDF or ARD, but I know people from all political groups who really watch primarily those channels as they know the journalists there try as far as it gets to provide the facts, perhaps with some analysis, but not a credo.

  2. HalfEmpty Says:

    The world is not a video game.

    Your name sake might have argued differently.

    Give another view point a chance. Even Phaux News, drooling right-wing knuckle draggers and the less than well-read of your own country. Otherwise Kepler, you’re doomed.

  3. Kepler Says:

    HalfEmpty, consider moving your own ass and learning about the outside world from different sources.
    The world is not a video game.

  4. AnonIII Says:

    “It’s been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He’s sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and “Israeli mercenaries” are torturing him with high-frequency radiation.
    “We are being threatened with death,” he said in an interview with The Miami Herald, adding that mercenaries were likely to storm the embassy where he has been holed up since Monday and assassinate him.

    “I prefer to march on my feet than to live on my knees before a military dictatorship,” Zelaya said in a series of back-to-back interviews.

    Zelaya was deposed at gunpoint on June 28 and slipped back into his country on Monday, just two days before he was scheduled to speak before the United Nations. He sought refuge at the Brazilian Embassy, where Zelaya said he is being subjected to toxic gases and radiation that alter his physical and mental state.

    Witnesses said that for a short time Tuesday morning, soldiers used a device that looked like a large satellite dish to emit a loud shrill noise.

    Honduran police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said he knew nothing of any radiation devices being used against the former president.

    “He says there are mercenaries against him? Using some kind of apparatus?” Cerrato said. “No, no, no, no. Sincerely: no. The only elements surrounding that embassy are police and military, and they have no such apparatus.”

    Police responded to reports of looting throughout the city Tuesday night. Civil disturbances subsided Wednesday afternoon, when a crush of people rushed grocery stores and gas stations in the capital.

    Israeli government sources in Miami said they could not confirm the presence of any “Israelis mercenaries” in Honduras.”

    And people want to restore this crackpot to power? Unreal!

  5. HalfEmpty Says:

    The Americas have enough FOX, CNN, VTV mentality. Hopefully some day another kind of journalism appears there.

    LOL! Else we’ll get another BusHitler. AmIrite?

    I advise conservation of badwidth, you’ve bitched about Phaux News, BusHitler and the general stupidity of US citizens and your own population enough. Let it go.
    Consider getting your ass back home and doing someting.

  6. concerned Says:

    From CNN:

    “TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (CNN) — Ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya said he and supporters holed up at the Brazilian Embassy were victims of a “neurotoxic” gas attack Friday morning that caused many people to have nose bleeds and breathing difficulties.

    Zelaya and his aides said at a news conference that a local public health specialist they identified as Dr. Mauricio Castellano took air samples near the embassy after the attack and determined that the gas contained HCN, an abbreviation for hydrogen cyanide.”

    What are the odds that a doctor with the means to sample air qualities just happened to be within the embassy? It is much more likely that they read the label on the side of the can. Sounds a lot like one of Chavez’s self procalimed “Good Stuff”canisters.

  7. Kepler Says:

    This was so predictable. It was like the time Lustig from BBC interviewed Chavez. So shallow! I understand many humble journalists do not have the time to do some extensive homework, but a guy like King should have been able to gather a staff to get the right ammo.

    This “Why do you hate Americans” attitude is just beside the point and Hugo knows very well how to exploit that, in the US and outside it. He is not Mahmoud, he is not Gaddafi.

    I wish people in the Americas would see Hugo being interviewed by a German journalist like Marietta Slomka, from state TV ZDF. That will never ever happen, though.
    (West) Germans probably learnt it the hard way: after Hitler, they decided
    not to take too much bullshit. Journalists, specially from such state TVs as ZDF and ARD, but also others, ask questions right and left in such a manner that they can make me feel sorry for the interviewed.

    The Americas have enough FOX, CNN, VTV mentality. Hopefully some day another kind of journalism appears there.

  8. Deanna Says:

    No, Bill O’Reilly won’t happen. As it is, Chavez already made some nasty remarks about Fox News!!!

  9. dubya Says:

    Larry King was a bit tougher than Barbara Walters who I thought was ready to jump into bed with Chavez when she interviewed him, but he still didn´t ask about the political prisoners, why opposition members have fled to Peru, etc. It was mainly questions regarding international relations, which I assume was for the relevance of the US audience.

    He did try and press him about whether he would shut Globovision, that was probably the highlight of the interview. A lot of the questions Chavez would answer with ´what you have read or heard is lies´, unfortunately Larry King doesn´t have the frame of reference on Venezuelan politics to come back at him afterwards. I must agree, I would love to see Bill O´Reilly take him on, but it won´t happen.

  10. bruni Says:

    I think LK did a good job. He put Ch at ease while not allowing his charm to
    take over the interview until it had ended. He asked the right questions and was well prepared.

    Chávez also presented himself well. Only us, who follow Vzlan politics very closely would be able to say that he was lying upfront on some points. However, he gave several non-answers to tough questions, but he did it well, deflecting the attention to issues that had nothing to do with the question but who would be popular to a liberal US audience (for instance, he started to talk about the holocaust of south-american indians the moment he could not answer the question of why he befriended someone that denied the jewish holocaust).

    LK could have insisted on an answer, 60 minutes style, but either he did not insist because he wanted to ask other questions or, in some cases, because he did not know all the details (like when CH said that the radio stations where closed because they did not comply with the law).

    In the end, it was interesting. I wonder how many americans did Ch convince.

  11. Andres F Says:

    Not only they wouldn’t have allowed it, but the interview would have probably been even worse, as Chavez would have pretended to stutter even more whenever he was not ready for an answer.

  12. Martin Says:

    Kepler: Your observations are right on. I was going to point out myself the one positive trait that distinguishes Chavez from Gaddaffi, Ahmadinejad, Mugabe and all the rest, if he gets the chance to show it, which usually he does. Superficial and phoney as it may be, he can turn on this lightness and sense of humor -and hence a sense of humanity- that the others cannot. It gives him a huge advantage, and if anything makes him more dangerous still. Last night, eg., the whole tone of the interview fell to pieces once he was able to trot out the nauseating chesnut about baseball (that he lifted straight from Fidel, a real baseball player) refer to Larry as ‘The King’ etc.
    One couldn’t conceive of Gaddaffi (so what do you think his drug of choice is!) doing or saying anything like that.
    A national trait? You may have a deeper point there too.
    And yes, O’Reilly would have been a better choice. Or Glen Beck. Or Shaun Hannity. Hugo’s handlers would never have allowed it though.

  13. Deanna Says:

    I didn’t watch LKL, but I’m sure that Chavez would have squirmed more if it had been Bill O’Reilly who interviewed him!!!

  14. Kepler Says:

    Yep, I was thinking about that as well.
    Uslar reminded us in De una a otra Venezuela that the word for oil Indians used was mene, which is, coincidentally, one of the words written on the wall in the story of Daniel:

    “And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
    Really, this is what has happened to Venezuela.
    Venezuelans have been found wanting, but they don’t know it.

  15. bruni Says:

    Kepler, it is probably part of the oil curse: easy money.

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  17. Kepler Says:

    I agree here with Firepigette and Bruni.
    And here in Europe when girls said “oh, I hear women in Venezuela are among the most beautiful” (it happens more than you may think) I can only roll my eyes.
    Venezuelans can be very generous with people they see in front of them (not with something called community or country), they can have a good sense of humour (although sometimes earnest is required), they can be creative when they make their effort, but in general we are incredibly superficial. How did this come to be?

  18. bruni Says:

    To Miguel:

    did you see yesterday night that Larry King specifically asked about Jimmy Carter’s latest comments and Chávez did not know how to answer? See now the importance of Carter’s new assessment on Chavez?

  19. Martin Says:

    Pretty good job, LK, though unfortunate that it descended into banality at the end. If he had kept up the kind of pressure that had the Dear Leader really squirming at some points (eg questions about Iran, about weapons, media closings, etc) it would have been truly impressive. But anybody with minimal insight could see the clear image of a liar and a hypocrite being easily exposed and continually needing to scramble for cover by the rote repetition of his worn-out cliches.

  20. NicaCat Says:

    I watched LKL last night. Poor, misunderstood Huguito! My husband was amused at the imprecations I kept hurling at the TV! Regarding the Miss Venezuela program, read http://bit.ly/Mh2e7.

  21. bruni Says:

    Yes Firepigette, venezuelans consider that the worst insult to anyone, is not that he/she is a liar, dishonest or dumb. The worst insult is always to call the person “fat” and “old” and, if it is a woman, they also add “ugly” (somehow only men are allowed to be ugly in Venezuela).

    In the case of men, they also add “gay” (again, for women it is seldom used).

    The “old” adjective is used pretty early, specially with women. They can be in their 30’s and being called “old” in a despective way.

    So it clearly shows what are the cherished values in the society. That’s why venezuelans are where they are. Because they have twisted values.

  22. firepigette Says:

    I didn’t watch TV…i have Roku if I am bored.I just download a documentary or movie from the computer on demand ( and its free).

    However I agree 100 % with Bruni on this one.Venezuela is obsessed with its own brand of beauty( the unnatural kind usually) and YOUTH of course.I love ‘youth’ but I do not idealize it.To me each age group has its greatness and natural beauty.

    The superficial /immature mind IS what drives the country.Those who might have something valuable to contribute are often not respected.

  23. concerned Says:

    The only program more funny than Family Guy was last night’s broadcast of Larry King. Watch out Stewie, you have competition.

  24. geha714 Says:

    Don’t forget the banning of Family Guy!

    El Chiguire has the scoop:


  25. GeronL Says:

    Does this not remind people of “Atlas Shrugs”? The incompetent rise to the top. Nobody takes responsibility for their own actions, everyone passes the buck. Poor driver had nobody to pass it to.

    Everything falls apart and nobody does anything about it.

  26. paul Says:

    I used to read ‘el tiempo’- the back page was so bizarre. I got car jacked once-checked the back page the day after and in nuevo barcelona in the same zone they had shot dead 4 drivers in 3 days- I guess I was lucky- I only lost my brand new car watch wallet and all my clothes! Remember the local police cornered bank robbers in a hairdressers and they shot dead 7 of them- no policemen hurt but that sort of thing was very common. I was introduced once to a policeman who had 8 confirmed kills- he was given the job of governor security- and the list goes on and on. bizare country.

  27. Megaescualidus Says:

    Larry King has Hugo currently in his TV program – as I’m writing this. To the uninitiated in Venezuela’s matters, one thing that should really be evident from this program is that without any doubt Hugo controls Venezuela’s policy. He is the policy, and anything that is decided and done in Venezuela goes through Hugo. Other than that I can see how a lot of people – outside of Venezuela – would be easily fooled by opinions coming from the program.

  28. butter Says:

    So much for choices: cadena nacionál rerun of the UN speech pasted over the finals of Miss Venezuela!

  29. bruni Says:

    good post Miguel. I don’t get Venevision, so I watched Chavez lie to Larry King instead.

    Anyhow, I think that the miss Venezuela and Chavez are closely related.

    A country that is so obsessed with beauty pageants and where the most valued features by the society are beauty and youth, could only end-up electing a putchist that was going to sell them snake oil.

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