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In Venezuela we have all been deceived

By Aleksander Boyd

London 08 Apr. 04 – Some years ago I was addicted to a couple of programmes. One was broadcast, if my memory does not fail me, on Thursdays at 11 PM by Venevision and the other one was on Sunday mornings in Televen at 10.30 AM. The hosts had, it seemed, a similar interest in exposing the trickeries and corruption scandals that used to plagate the public administration of the fourth Republic. To be frank I was very much enamoured of the way those two journalists denounce the grossest of abuses.

There was a third one that launched another show by the name “La Silla Caliente” or the hot chair, where he confronted the presidential wannabes with all sorts of unscripted questions just to see how they would ‘defend’ themselves. It was great fun, no self respected politico was ever able to escape unscathed from them, perhaps the sole exception was Miguel ‘paquetico’ Rodriguez who presented his plan for the future divided into four different parts. Education, Economy, Health, and Crime policies were explained by him in clear terms. The rest of the aspiring leaders competed amongst each other on the basis of which one had the most charismatic smile or their ability to duck & dive the incisive questions put forth by the host. Hugo Chavez and Claudio Fermin were very close in that race, however, as we all know, Chavez had the upper hand and won the election.

If I were to have asked some of today’s Venezuelan pundits back then about the intricacies of the countries politics or why the media permitted such an open humiliation of public figures they would not have known. Without exaggeration three years ago very few outside our borders knew anything with respect to our political life. Quite frankly it is shocking to see how many learned individuals have chosen to become savants on our affairs. These days, however, they all appeared to have such an insightful knowledge that they even pretend to command our contemporary history better than us, I wonder how they would fare in the hot chair though.

Politicos from the fourth Republic deceived the country for 50 years but the situation, from an individual perspective, was manageable enough to get along and make a pass at the grave social problems that were on the increase. Chavez’ election to the presidency was nothing but an exemplary case of how a nation -sick of lies, corruption and official rottenness- decided generally to castigate the establishment passing the ball to a maverick that promised paradise on earth. No more deceit, no more corruption, no more illiterates commanding the future of the nation, that was the feeling shared by us all. Fast forward 6 years, all indexes of the country indicate in irrefutable manner that the maverick has utterly failed, just as his predecessors did.

Deception as State policy

Incredibly, as it may appear, I have things in common with chavistas. They, same as me, have been duped by their leader. Expectations were stratospheric, nevertheless not one of them (talking about the many honest ones I met during my last visit to the country) can say that their lives have improved in the last six years. Crime is higher than ever, meaning that they still have to pay ‘peaje’ (toll) to go up the barrio’s stairs; there are no jobs to be found; wheeling and dealing on cheap imports is increasingly difficult due to the stiff foreign exchange controls imposed; mind you the only source of income for most of them is the token rally in support of the leader (they get paid to attend) were food can also be found at heavily subsidised prices. What will happen when the government can no longer ‘buy them out’? The internal debt has grown exponentially since Chavez’ arrival (its service coupled with the external it’s already taken 32% of GDP, eclipsing other expenses such as health and social security); production levels of the only profit generating enterprise of the State are decreasing and will continue to do so; foreign investors have been scared away; in sum the panorama for the poor looks scarier than ever before. So the obligatory question is, do chavistas need to go through a 50 year period of deception to castigate present and future leaders? I certainly hope not.

Time has proved that Chavez is no different, he is as corrupt, deceitful, useless and injurious for our nation as CAP or Caldera or Lusinchi or “cochino e’ monte” with the difference than previous ones had a progressive ascent to power that translated in a gradual ransack of the countries coffins. The present political status quo has the aggravating factor of galloping greed and megalomania. In their frenzy they have killed the hen of the golden eggs, which will bring about nothing but more misery for the disenfranchised. When my chavista compatriots get tired of being abused we will have to start reconstructing the country, I have great anticipation towards that moment after all “somos la misma gente.”

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