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May fever in Venezuela

By Daniel Duquenal | Venezuela News and Views

03.05.05 | Well, Chavez got it. When one listens to his speech yesterday (excerpts in cadena tonight) one wonders what the heck is going on in his mind. I just cannot remember all the stupid things said by him, but I have a good one that will reach the US readers of this blog.

Chavez was talking in his May First rally (as in the soviet countries now the workers May marches are organized by the sate) of the long gone days of Chicago in 1888. Oblivious of the subtleties of the anarchist context of that historical week, if we are to believe Chavez, the North America people have yet to be freed of the oppressor the way now Venezuelan people are free. Haymarket was for nil until he came to power in Venezuela. No words of course of the New Deal and all sorts of labor measures today that make the condition of blue collar worker in the US infinitely more advantageous than middle managerial posts in Venezuela. But I digress.

The not particularly big rally, in spite of the usual "incentives" for people to attend, offered the first articulation of the new "cogestión" law project (co-management). If it is going to be as successful as the cooperative projects in Venezuela, we are a long way from prosperity. Mind you, cogestion and cooperatives have a distinguished career in some countries, but the successful ones all have something in common: they were created by workers already having the tools and the skills in order to resist better larger private concerns or market ups and downs. Here, chavismo is trying to start them from scratch and as expected it will end up as yet another handout program. But of course, with oil at 50 USD, who cares?!

The funny thing is that during these explanations even the official camera filming the rally could not help itself from showing the rather low enthusiasm of the crowd. Some acerbic commentators tonight in Alo Ciudadano remarked that people probably did not have a clue of what Chavez was talking about and did not know whether to cheer the great leader.

But perhaps one should show some compassion for Chavez. After all he was fresh from Cuba where he was submitted to a sycophantic speech of utmost ridicule by Castro himself. After that, of course, he must have felt like some Evangelist sent on a mission (if not more than an Evangelist).

But all of these initiatives, from Cuba sweet deals to congestion and recent expropriations (while letting private pro Chavez business set the most capitalistic mints) have a reason. There is nothing haphazard in the macro perspective of Chavez ramblings. He knows he cannot deliver, even at 50 USD per barrel; or at least not any time soon as he is already running for the 2006 elections (where he must get more votes than in 2004). So it is better to try to educate the poor that make his core following: it is bad to be rich, it is really bad for you, it numbs your brain (while himself and his relatives are fat with prosperity); cogestión is good for you (and if you fail it will not be Chavez fault); we must help US workers free themselves from the tyranny of big capital (which means that I have already freed you, stop complaining if you are hungry); and more nonsense that I cannot deal with. I suppose that some people do buy such worn out clichés.

The beloved leader on May 1. Far from the crowd and with a full block of adoring faithful, enough for TV needs (amazingly posted in the state news, showing how weak the opposition has become that the government does not need to fudge anymore to show bigger marches than those of the opposition...)

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