How much is Chavez’ show worth?

January 17, 2011

Last Saturday we saw another episode of Chavez’ show, the long running and best selling program in Venezuela’s TV, now in its thirteenth year. And the title of this post follows another long running program in Venezuela: ¿Cuanto vale el show?

Because in the end that is all we have had in those thirteen years: a show run very well by the President, in which he makes believe that he is running the country, helping the poor, caring for the poor, but in the end it is all fake, just another show.

A very costly one at that, as billion of dollars have been wasted in allowing loyal incompetents to run the country. While in the early stages Chavez had some people who knew what they were doing, they are fewer and far between these days. He is surrounded by the loyal and chosen few, most of which have no management experience or very poor one at that.

The Saturday show proved that Chavez has had no plan for housing or crime for thirteen years.  Chavez sounded more like a recently arrived President than one with so many years in power. As usual, he refuses to accept responsibility saying the crime problem is not his fault, it is everyone’s fault! Sure, who replaced all professional police heads around the country by loyal military friends who could be trusted? It was Hugo himself.

He did admit that he had failed in housing, promising 150,000 housing units in 2011, because now he is in charge. Mercy! How many housing programs has Chavez announced of a much smaller scale only to be met with failure?

And he lied through his teeth, talking about the inflation at Caldera’s time, without realizing that world inflation was not only high at the time, but the country saw its banking system decimated by a crisis of Caldera’s own doing as oil prices hovered around $12. Had Caldera had Chavez’ oil prices he could have bailed out the system as easily as Hugo was able to hide it a year or so ago. But Hugo’s inflation has actually been comparable to Caldera’s

The same thing when Hugo talked about agriculture. He only talked about the rice crop being bad in 2010, but it was across the board, and the 2% plus he mentioned for rice is fifteen times smaller than what experts say happened in 2010.

But who cares about the truth, this is just another show!

Unfortunately, Chavez did not get any smile from opposition Deputies, who held back as much as they could even when the jokes were really bad.

But it is all a show. The other day, I posted about the electric crisis. Chavez claimed to have solved it last Saturday, it has been taken care of by Hugo himself, but fails to explain today’s black out in six states and in parts of Caracas. (Radar de Los Barrios reports lights went out at 10 AM in El Valle in Western Caracas and at 7 PM the electricity was still down)

The problem is that Hugo has gotten away with this for quite a while and high oil prices are likely to allow him to continue for a while. A commenter in the electricity post a few days ago, CarlosElio, proved this very eloquently. He reminded us that in 2005, Chavez had “Gabinetes Moviles” a new form of his variety show in which he held Cabinet meetings in different parts of the country and made it look like he was solving and attacking the country’s problems. There are three such posts, here, here and here, but just looking at the first one should be enough. (All three are worth reading if you know Spanish, Anna Black makes some very witty comments about what people are saying)

In this first Gabinete Movil, which took place of all places in Anzoategui State, one of the states that suffered the most last year’s electric crisis, you can see the style. It was all show, you can read the details there but it went something like this, Here is the link to the full video:

The Mayor: Wel,l lights go out seven eight times (a day) and when lights go out, pumps go out (no water) and I would like help…because here in Anzoategui we have lots of water problems





Please Jackeline (Farias) don’t leave without talking to the Mayors, just there in a small meeting and we can get a small working plan (plancito…)

Why do lights go out so much there?

The Mayor: Its grave , Mr President it’s grave

President: Which Electric system do you have there? What is happening with Eleoriente (The electric company there)

The Governor: I would say 70% of the State has been affected by a very grave energy crisis that has been going on for years (Blame the fourth, of course!). I was talking to the Minister of Energy and we agreed to make a working plan and a technical meeting to truly get rid of this problem….It is humble people that are being affected…this a a State problem Mr. President…

President of Eleoriente: I have been in my position since December (five months). The situation is critical due to the lack of investment and growth…

Chavez (looking Presidential) And what is your proposal? Answer: To invest. On what? says Chavez…then you should talk to the Minister of Energy and the Minister of the Environment on water.

So, it all looked very efficient, except, NOTHING was ever done. Anzoategui was one of the states that had the worst and longest blackouts in all of the country in 2010. (Remember this is circa May 2005, almost six years ago!)


Because once the Producers, the cameras, the teams, the Cabinet came back to Caracas, there was no meeting, no “plancito” no investment. Nothing.

It was all about the show, having Chavez look like he is giving orders and solving problems, but in the end, nothing was done.

But the show was a huge success. Chavez did these mobile Cabinets for a while until he got tired of that variety of a show and came up with a new version.

The problem is that it works! Show after show convinces people that he is working hard, getting stuff done, but nothing is being done. These incompetent fools (not the President of Eleoriente, he is long gone and has been replaced by four or five nobodies) came back to Caracas, tired and ready for another show, a weekend with the family and by the time they thought about the “plancito” or the meeting, off they went to a new Gabinete Movil in Altagracia de Orituco. And there they went through the charade again of meetings and plans and technical solutions.

But the show must go on. And that is all the revolution knows how to do.

But it is a very expensive, very destructive show. New announcements every weekend which translate into mini-shows like expropriations that don’t work. Invasions that yield noise. Scares that make people emigrate. Crazy ideas that make no sense but have to be implemented because Chavez asked for them. And a year from now, nobody remembers any of it.

Not even Chavez, because the show must go on, no matter how much it costs. It is the Hugo Chavez show!

19 Responses to “How much is Chavez’ show worth?”

  1. m_astera Says:


    I don’t have any disagreement with your analysis. I think our political views are very similar, with me perhaps having a couple more decades of experience with governments leading to an even more jaded view of any government anywhere anytime in history.

    Two things need to change; the first is the widespread recognition of exactly what a psycho-sociopath is and from that an understanding of how and why they ALWAYS end up in positions of power. Once that is recognized and acknowledged, somehow those types need to be positively identified and prevented from attaining any position of power.

    The second is that present and historical concepts of government need to be completely inverted. Sovereign power and freedom should belong to the individual, with less and less power delegated as the circle widens. The community should have less power than the family, the the local region less power than the community, the State or Province less power than the local region.

    Those of you seeing these concepts for the first time: This IS where the world is going. Wait and see.

  2. loroferoz Says:


    At best it is marginally civilized, and it is always unfair. A threat of violence underlies every law and tax and regulation by government.

    I only said that if you have to choose SOME of the people to manage and mediate public affairs, democracy is a good method as any. That’s why I likened it to club (voluntary associations) elections. Nothing to worship. Only a method for choosing officials who will maybe do what you wished if you were in the majority who chose them.

    To me, politics is quite possible without coercion and without traditional powers of government. Everyone does politics, with neighbors and colleagues, friends and strangers. Only it does not include coercion, only consensus.

    The problem is that public affairs turns out to mean, for some people, exclusively things you can force other people to do (or not to do). Coercion and working with money taken from others is what makes politics an ugly word.

    I am well aware of how modern (and old) government works.

    I will adapt a good point Scott Adams made about gender inequality and power of men vs. women. One of his best points is that there are a few really powerful men. But they are not you and are not near you. They are not consulting you every time they do something. Substitute public officials for men above.

    And then, the people you elect are a very small part of government. There are a myriad agencies where you cannot find a single elected official, where (unlike policemen) bureaucrats get to draft the very regulations they enforce and how they enforce them.

  3. m_astera Says:


    Please explain to me what is fair or civilized about any person or group of people having the ability to force their will on others who disagree with them.

    And let’s leave reductio ad absurdum arguments out of it.

  4. loroferoz Says:

    “Enter democracy, one person one vote, and 50.001% get to decide for the other 49.999%. Add in popular media and advertising along with propaganda slogans.”

    “Democracy has never worked and will never work”

    Democracy “works”. It is a more or less civilized, and more or less fair method for electing a very small minority of the people in a government who might or might not be the real power brokers in it, to act as representatives of voters.

    Any high level ministry employee wields more real power than a number of members of parliament, and he is not elected.

    This is done in the hope that they will have the same ideas and intentions of a majority of voters and act accordingly. They might sometimes do it too, if noisy groups of voters have some influence in their job stability.

    You realize that “power to the people” and “people’s government” is a fairy tale. That you, dear voter, have absolutely no “power” in a democracy, not even diluted ten-million-fold.

    Not that you should have it. You instead have rights, which should not be surrendered to any group for “power” or money grabbed by force from others like you.

    Speaking of groups… In itself, election of government officials is no more sacred, or virtuous, or any better in the best of cases than the election of officials for a club or association. It has the potential to be much worse.

    What has to be remembered is that club officials are NEVER ultimately given the power to interfere the basic rights of club members. Particularly the right to keep them from quitting the club or founding another club. Neither should have it the members of government.

  5. m_astera Says:


    In most if not all societies the majority of people are not well educated, of average intelligence, and have little real interest in the big picture; they are concerned with their own personal well being and drama, hence they are easily fooled and easily led.

    Enter democracy, one person one vote, and 50.001% get to decide for the other 49.999%. Add in popular media and advertising along with propaganda slogans.

    Now, promise those who have little that they will get something for nothing; promise them that not only will you take from the rich and give it to them, but that you will bring the rich down to the level of the poor. Do this at the same time you are blaming the rich for all of the problems. Is it going to be difficult to convince a majority to vote for you? Not at all, as long as the majority is poor and lacks vision and education. Winning a democratic election that way is practically a foregone conclusion.

    And there is the answer to your question “How did we come to elect and almost worship the crassest caudillo we could find? How did we brush aside learned politicians and intellectuals, even those on the caudillo’s own side?”

    The caudillo came to power by appealing to the needy, the ignorant, and the envious; they remain his power base and he will only continue in power as long as he plays to them.

    Democracy has never worked and will never work; the Greeks proved that thousands of years ago. All that ever happens in a democracy is that the majority votes itself into the position of robbing and controlling the minority.

  6. Gordo Says:

    When someone thinks he is above the law, has absolute power, able to control what the public knows…. they say one thing.

    When the someone above realizes things are going terribly wrong and somebody has to blamed… and he’s run out of people to blame… he’ll say something else.

  7. loroferoz Says:


    “To complicate matters we all have the misfortune of being kids before adults, and we all learned to obey someone with more power than us…”

    “The role of education is to help us unlearn the ritual of obedience. The world is so complex that the location of the truth varies randomly. One single individual will most likely miss the location. You need a collective being, like a free parliament, or a free press…”

    A great comment. I would only add that societies that do well economically and politically are those where the Bull with Most Balls is the one who provides SERVICE freely, which is freely EXCHANGED for other SERVICE by others. Where the Balls Size is determined by your success in civilized exchange, and by an appreciation that almost approaches rational self-interest and/or rational civic spirit.

    Rather than just being a Bully. The stoning is an extreme form of bullying, in this case women who “deviate”. And the utility function is keeping the status quo by bullying those that deviate from the accepted norm and have no power to answer in kind.

    When a society promotes as heroes peaceful businessmen, scholars, scientists, technological pioneers, it’s famous dissidents, and even it’s members of parliament/presidents/premiers known for eloquence or integrity, you know that such a society can be civilized.


    How did we get to be here? We had an imperfect democratic tradition, and respected people other than crass caudillos de montoneras. Or at least it seemed so.

    How did we come to elect and almost worship the crassest caudillo we could find? How did we brush aside learned politicians and intellectuals, even those on the caudillo’s own side?

    At least there’s the Consuelo de Tontos in knowing that in living memory, “advanced” nations behaved like us “savages” before and had to literally be beaten out of it by total war.

  8. A_Antonio Says:

    loboferoz, last comment was excelent

  9. CarlosElio Says:

    Excellent post, Miguel. I agree with Amieres. It should be translated into Spanish and distributed though the network of Venezuelan blogs. It carries irrefutable evidence that this is a government oblivious to the needs of the people. The government does not work to generate and distribute resources to meet people’s needs of well-being and growth. The government is a gigantic show company. But why do people still believe in him and support him?

    One possible answer is that they are stupid, or some other epithet. This is the: “They are stupid” (TAS) argument. You find its flavor in some of the preceding comments. I usually don’t like this argument because it almost never has any data to back it up, and it is a little self-serving. “I am different from they, hence if they are stupid I am smart” type of thing.

    I observe in other cultures people doing what I would consider stupid or even horrible things. Stoning a woman to death because she slept around is not my cup of tea. Most people I know would strongly object to such a blatant abuse of human rights. But there are millions of people who think that such a punishment is well deserved.

    The perception between those guys and my guys is so diametrically opposed that this is not a matter of degrees. It is rather as if the surface where reasoning occurs has different topologies for different cultures. They don’t see stoning the same way you do, they see a different thing. And it makes sense to them. They cannot be stupid, they are maximizing their utility functions however those functions are shaped.

    I have this hypothesis which I’d like to share for the first time. Being a social animal, we are a pack animal. We follow a leader, by instinct. Much before we had a language, we had communities and those guys had a way of communicating without using words. If they did not communicate, they would have been able to live in society.

    How to identify the leader without words? It had to be done by physical force. The pack animal has to see who is the bull with the biggest balls. So, from very early on, from the dawn of civilization, there was a fine sense of hierarchy fine tuned by evolution and chiseled in the emotional brain.

    To complicate matters we all have the misfortune of being kids before adults, and we all learned to obey someone with more power than us. Two important forces, deep memory traces left by social structure, and early learning experiences telling us that there is a power elsewhere.

    The role of education is to help us unlearn the ritual of obedience. The world is so complex that the location of the truth varies randomly. One single individual will most likely miss the location. You need a collective being, like a free parliament, or a free press to discuss the pros and the cons of every issue. But this type of reasoning is in collision course with the primitive instincts of the pack animal. That’s why it is so important to debase culture, to restraint free research.

    Chavez needs the show to showcase his immense testicles, so the faithful can see the golden nuts and renew the pledge of allegiance to the biggest balls.

    Compare it to religion. Every Sabbath day the faithful goes to church to renew the bonds of faith with the creed. Chavez’s shows are religious events to showcase the power of this man. To mock chavez is highly offensive to them, it backfires since heir loyalty becomes stronger.

    Your post is a mortal blow to any concept of chavismo except one: chavismo is to be as close as possible to the supreme leader.

    I am glad my comments contributed to this post. The real merit lies with Ana Black, she writes with delicious humor.

  10. m_astera Says:


    “How long can this go on? That is the question.”

    Until he runs out of money or the ability to borrow money using Venezuela’s resources as collateral. Simple as that.

    And whenever that happens, the Venezuelan people will still be held responsible to pay the debts he incurred.

  11. geronl Says:

    That is very true.

    How long can this go on? That is the question.

  12. loroferoz Says:

    It IS a curse, reading.

    Having read fiction and caricature (such as Animal Farm), history of totalitarian dictatorships (such as Rise and Fall of the Third Reich) and eyewitness accounts of the daily life of “revolutionaries” like Nasser, Qaddafi, Idi Amin Dada and others in Africa and Asia, and having watched enough movies, comic and not…

    You begin to have a stereotypical idea of what the cabinet of a third-to-fourth-world “democratic” “popular” “socialist” “islamic”? republic would look like. Of the behavior of the Great and Glorious Leader and President for Life (that is, until he was killed in a coup). Of just how deranged, how scatterbrained, how having-the-attention-span-of-a-goldfish it would seem to anybody keeping common sense about him/her.

    In short, it was the kind of thing that happened in the 50s, 60s and 70s in places that had never been a republic, where people were and are tribal and had been treated as slaves by a colonial power up to independence, where easily preventable illnesses killed one infant out of three, another died of hunger, and the third joined a guerrilla or armed band.

    You really want to scream when you see it live, on your own country, in 2010. It was supposed to be satire, or at least to be performed by some definitely NOT-self-conscious bunch of almost-tribesmen.

    As a Venezuelan you say… WAIT! It was not like this before! I remember we had a Republic! The President did not seem a military drag queen! There was no President for Life here!

    How in hell did this happen?

    Welcome to the Fourth World, Venezuela?

    To finish in a hopeful? note, I will perform an inverse Godwin. The Germans and Italians, being (we believe) much more cultured (and technically advanced) nations than Venezuela, have much more to be ashamed of, then, given all the clowning they witnessed and endured enthusiastically.

  13. A_Antonio Says:

    The Saturday speech was seven hours long.

    I am amuse about nobody is commenting about this speech was insane longer. Hello !!!,

    Yes, we are use to these long shows, but for speaker and for who dare to listen, this still insane. Are we getting that level of insanity yet?.

  14. metodex Says:


    The show works because thats how Venezuelans are.They only want to liste,then lay back.They’re told stuff is working,and they lay back.Why wont they fucking stand,and go look if its working,and working RIGHT.
    So much people supporting Chavez and voting for him just because he is Chavez and he says he’s done a lot for you and he’s on your side.
    If he says so,it must be true,i mean,he is my president right?

    i wrote some stuff like that in my blog,you know, why the show works.
    Or maybe it’s like reality shows work,everyone knows its bull,but damn it,its good to watch.

  15. metodex Says:

    I saw that documentary some time ago.It’s very very good,i loved it.Letme read the post now

  16. amieres Says:

    This is a great post!
    It should be translated into spanish and disseminated everywhere!

  17. Mitzy Says:

    Check this cartoon out: “Venezuela’s strong man always finds an excuse” at

  18. J.E. Says:

    Great post! So true

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