The failure of the sick President-elect of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, to show up yesterday for his necessary swearing in as the nation’s President at Venezuela’s Supreme Court was emblematic of a man who has cared little for law or procedure whilst ruling Venezuela as a dictator for over a decade now.
Written by Dominic Wightman
Chavez is a man who has feigned everything – electronic election wins, charity to the poor, endless excuses including American yankee mierda being the source of all the problems he created (he claims the Americans gave him the cancer in the first place using a cancer gun!); even the crowds who flock to his rallies (paid in bundles of bolivares, arepas and beer made from yucca) are fake.
If Chavez is still alive and in severe pain, perhaps we should give karma on earth a chance after all; after it failed miserably to materialise for Savile.
I still find it shocking that supposedly learned Western commentators, who have clearly never been to Venezuela, still see Chavez as the saviour of Venezuela’s poor, when in fact he has squandered the country’s oil resources, failed to invest in Venezuela’s most significant industry, run the country like a baboon in a banana tree and left the country in ruins economically and socially as a consequence.
Even those commentators who actually set foot on Venezuelan soil get the reality wrong. Just on Tuesday Britain’s Channel 4’s usually brilliant US Correspondent Matt Frei surrounded himself in a relatively smart shopping district of Caracas with a bunch of geriatric Chavista loons, who declared their love for Chavez and failed to admit that he might now be gone… maybe these journos are just too scared to enter the barrios (slums) or venture along the perilous roads past burnt-out bus wrecks inland to the countryside where, even in small towns, the homicide rate is the highest in Latin America. (In Frei’s case it looked like he’d stumbled upon happy hour.)
Chavez’ seemingly principled and idealistic drive over the years for what he calls Bolivarian Socialism has been a smokescreen for him and his posse of uneducated bullies to fill almost every post in the land with family, spirit truckloads of wealth away to safe-keeping houses in foreign lands, create a lot of fascinating treasury bonds and destroy the institutions that (albeit under-resourced because of dire corruption that Chavez exploited to take power by coup) worked pre-Chavez.
Here I talk of the prisons (many of which are now run by the inmates), the grand fincas (food is now imported from neighbouring Colombia and Brazil), the hospitals and clinics (replete with high paid Cuban doctors and nurses with diplomas bought in corner shops in Havana) and the schools (rarely attended if at all in the barrios and the countryside states like Monagas, where they have fallen apart along with the goals and aspirations of the young, who have sunk to new depths of murder and sequestro – kidnapping – to fill their pockets with enough money to survive).
If Chavez is dead, here’s his obituary:
Venezuela, the most violent country in South America, recorded a new high of 21,692 murders last year along with a surge in kidnappings, prison riots and random shootings. The number of victims was up by 12 per cent from 2011 when there were 19,336 deaths, the Venezuelan Violence Observatory reported before Christmas. High profile killings included that of a three year-old child, Edgar Torres, who was fired on 10 times while he was asleep in bed, after a gunman had come in to kill a teenage relative.
In August 2012 more than 20 people were killed in a battle between two heavily armed groups inside the Yare I prison. Of those dead that could be accounted for, more than 300 prisoners died in Venezuelan jails in the first half of 2012.
The Mexican ambassador Carlos Pujalte and his wife were seized from their car in a wealthy area of Caracas and held for several hours before being released alive in a slum in January.
Unlike other Latin American countries, Venezuela is not involved in a drug war or on-going battle with guerrillas.
Violence was never like this pre Chavez. This is his true record. It’s shambolic. (If you ever get a chance to watch the Venezuelan episode of Ross Kemp’s Violent Gangs series, you will get some idea of just how bad Venezuela has become.)
I know Venezuela well; on the ground and from outside its internal propaganda bubble. I fully blame Chavez and those surrounding him for Venezuela’s ills. These days you can stand in the open in Venezuela’s Grand Savannah and think you are in paradise only to drive twenty miles to a town which you’d swap for Islamabad or Lagos in a heartbeat.
Only a few of the educated Venezuelans have stayed – the opposition parties are lucky to have the likes of Henrique Capriles and Leonardo Lopez, who are as eloquent as they are brainy. The rest of the sane, educated people fled to Europe or Miami years ago.
Venezuela is a basket case even by Latin American standards. It will take many generations and decades to remove the cancer that Hugo Chavez has infected Venezuelans with.
Venezuelan society is foul like a rotten mango and seething with felonious termites. The youth in Chavista towns wear the red of the revolution and think that by showing loyalty to Chavez and his thugs they have carte blanche to do what they want to those who want no part of this sham revolution. These thugs will corner the old and rob them – killing them if they feel like it. The Venezuelan police are, in general, corrupt – I was once stopped on a motorbike by Venezuelan police and had to give them an almuercito (something for lunch) … it was seven in the evening. The police and government are behind many of the sequestro gangs.
The total corruption of centuries of past Presidents is as nothing compared to what El Comandante Hugo Chavez has got away with in Venezuela.
The sheer ridiculousness of Chavez invoking the spirit of Venezuela’s founding father, Simon Bolivar, in his dreadful, daft speeches would make for a canvas absurd enough for a Spike Milligan sketch. Indeed if Simon Bolivar could reappear in 2013 and meet Chavez face to face he would ask Chavez to lick his boots then stab him a thousand times once he realised the coward’s treason. Bolivar was a European by education and in thought and strategy, way more educated and worldly than Chavez.
If only the red-tinted glasses of Western champagne socialists could be wiped clean with a trip to a Venezuelan prison (where one is better off dead than alive) or even Caracas airport (where a recent group of Western male doctors were gang raped and robbed after their taxi was smashed into by Venezuelan gangs) or they could be left on a delightful Venezuelan beach for a few hours with their factor 50 and handkerchief hats (during which they’ll most likely get robbed, kidnapped, raped or murdered) – reality may then suddenly start to dawn on these deluded fools.
Venezuela is not a socialist dream as some red muppets in Tooting and Islington like to point out. I cannot see the human capital that Venezuela lost returning soon – even in a post-Chavez world. The best hope for a rebirth of the country would require inhuman, drastic measures: a civil war, a complete clean-out of the Chavistas and a Giuliani style death penalty clean-up of all the corrupt politicians, kidnappers, robbers and other hoodlums that right now plague this once most beautiful of all countries in Latin America like pestilent boils on an otherwise enchanting beauty queen.
Chavez seems to be physically as good as dead. For that man to keep his mouth closed for an hour is rare; for a whole month is unheard of. To kill him spiritually will take the passing of many years, huge investment and leaders with the strength, character and ability to reverse brainwash some of the least educated people on planet earth.
In the meantime, dear Trots out there, do persist in listening to Dudamel’s Simon Bolivar orchestra and your doyen, Red Ken Livingstone, who suggested recently that, even after the demise of Chavez, his reforms would definitely live on. (This stance will provide a continuing perfect cover for the Chavista cronies to rape Venezuela’s resources for one last time before pegging it in their gin palaces to Panama and St Kitts).
To my relatives sleeping soundly in Venezuela with pistols under their pillows – here is joyous cause for one sweet dream at least…
If Chavez is dead at least he now knows the real smell of sulphur.
Dominic Wightman is the Editor of the Westminster Journal and a member of Primero Justicia, the Venezuelan Opposition Party.