@juancarreno

Archive for the ‘Inside Venezuela’ Category

Human… right?

In Inside Venezuela on abril 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm

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Today, the same day he reappeared live on tv to sign a new law that is supposed to be good for the workers, Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, declared that he will retire the country from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.

I will not discuss the consequences of this decision -since I’m not a jurist- but, from the simple view of a non specialist, I’m wondering what can lead a state to retire itself from a institution whose only mission -as you can see here- is to “promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere”.

One of the main reasons for the existence of supra states institutions is to avoid a “well intentioned” state to act unwisely against its own people. With this decision, the government of Venezuela is basically saying: “you know what? We never make mistakes, we know what is best for our people, and if -in the future- we need advice from abroad about human rights, we can always ask for recommendations to our friends…you know…from Cuba”.

But here’s the thing: there is no such thing as a perfect state (even the Vatican says that there is a “papal infallibility”, not a “Vatican” one). And advice, legal action and monitoring from abroad should be a good thing for any democratic state. “Democratic” being here, obviously, the keyword.

Made famous as an incomplete cliché, the famous quote from Lord Acton says: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men”.

Right now -it seems- the greatest men are on the venezuelan government.

Think about it Mr. President, and take back the promise you make today, (won’t be the first time) because we all make mistakes, and we all need people around to tell us how to amend them. It’s only human, right?

A (not so) serious letter to @twitter

In Inside Venezuela, Uncategorized on abril 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Dear Mr. Larry (Bird):

Hope you’re doing well.

I’m writing you today as a concerned citizen of Venezuela.

If you can only read this paragraph, I’ll be more than satisfied. The rest, where I merely will try to explain my petition, is up to you. So let’s get to the point, this is my request in less than 140 characters: please, PLEASE, take good care of the password of the @chavezcandanga twitter account.

You see, that’s the official account of our current president, and he (being treated against cancer in Cuba, and absent from national territory for most of the year) make the very regretable decision (for him and for us) of not delegate the presidential powers on the vice-president and -most important for my current petition- decided to run the goverment, well, from twitter.

“How so?” you may ask, and, I know, it’s a very difficult thing to imagine. But I think the best way to explain this is looking at some tweets, don’t you think? so, here it goes:

Presidential tweet from april 17th

The tweet said: "Hi Venezuela. I inform you that I have approved 1.950 millions for states and counties from oil revenues. Let's go!"

That tweet announces $450.000.000 dollars approved to states all around the country (Yes, he handles public money as if it is not ours but his, but let’s not deviate from the issue). Not bad, that kind of t-goverment, huh? But, here’s the deal: from this account had also come out tweets like this one:

Presidential tweet

Don't waste your time...this means in spanish exactly the same thing as in english...

You must remember this tweet from some weeks ago, dear twitter guys, when it became an instant worldwide trend.

That tweet, of course, means the same in spanish as in english: “I really don’t know how to handle this carefully enough as to use it as a substitute of a constitutional state”.

Sure, it is possible that the mistake was the responsability of one of the 200 hundred employees that take care of this account (something that the president himself once said). It is also very likely that some kid (a grandchildren, maybe?) took grandpa’s Blackberry (yes, the anti-imperialist president carries around a very capitalist Blackberry) and simply touched some random keys. In any, case, the only thing I’m asking to you (twitter guys, are you still there?) is to take special care of that password for the following reason:

If the twitter account of our beloved leader (no no, that’s just a joke, it is not a crime NOT to call him like that… yet) for any cause, any given time, gets hacked, and tweets something like “we had just launch an aerial attack to the US, take that, you f*$%& gringos!” some of us will reeeally have a hard time when the “empire” strikes back.

But just some of us, and of course not him because… you know… our president lives in Cuba now.

And he’s receiving the treatment that not one poor cancer patient from our country can receive at our destroyed public hospitals.

But that’s for another tweet.

Thanks, yours sincerely:

@juancarreno

The life and death of Hugo Chávez

In Inside Venezuela on abril 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm
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The religious socialist

Right now, Venezuela’s future looks like a big, black swan.

Yesterday, (Maunday Thursday, in a very catholic country) a man -in the middle of a catholic mass- gathered his close ones, embraced his mortality and asked God for bravery and life, regardless of the pain.

It wasn’t a priest remembering the words of Jesus.

It was the president of Venezuela.

“Give me your cross, give me your crown of thorns, give me your pain, but let me live, for I have so much still to do…” Implored Hugo Chavez to the image of the crucified Jesus, broadcasted to the whole country via the state TV, (VTV).

Venezuelans are starting to get used to “Miraflología” (a term coined to refer to the “deciphering” of the messages from the government building “Miraflores” and similar to the ancient “Kremlinology” of the cold war), specially since Chavez started to: a) denied any health problem (to accept he had cancer afterwards) b) assured that he was cured (to start radiotherapy days later) and, c) ultimately, guaranteed that he was on the path to total cure (days before the pray I described before).

So, within minutes of the televised mass, social networks started to boom with messages -full of hope from recovery (from chavistas) and full of three types of content from the rest of the people:

  • The paranoids: people trying to convince the rest that it is all a big scam, that he is not even sick, and that the strategy is to convert him in a “living miracle” for the upcoming elections.
  • The jokers: a big chunk of the population (specially those on vacation) chose not to take seriously any news, protecting themselves of any stress with the “weapon of choice” of any Venezuelan: our hyper developed sense of humor.
  • The transition planners: people urging politicians to develop a plan to make a swift transition to avoid the phantom of any coup.

And there is one more category, which involves people with and against the actual government.

They are the apocalyticals

They are the people which shudder only at the thought of someone putting them on the same basket, people trying to convince the rest of us that the destiny of the country relies on the end (or the continuity) of one man on the presidency.

They are the people pushing for the consolidation of the worst of these administration, or pushing for the opposition showing the worst of itself trying to topple Chavez.

They are the people who think that the life and dead of a country like ours can be tied to the life and dead of a man.

They are not right, but they have an advantage, though:

They talked. And tweet.

A lot.

But jokers, planners, chavistas… and yes, even paranoids (and, of course, all the Venezuelans that reject to be categorized by an unknown blogger) know that we live in one of the countries with more history (and education) about democracy in the world, and that we had managed to survive ill leaders, mad leaders and the more disastrous of all: BAD leaders.

We know -and we are proud of it- that any attempt to kill, to topple, or to organize a successful coup during the last 6 decades in our country had failed. Even the ones organized by the actual president, and the ones organized for his worst enemies.

I don’t know what is going to happen in the upcoming weeks (that’s the definition of a black swan, right?) but I know one thing:

This time won’t be the exemption.

It might look as if Venezuela’s democracy is crumbling, but it is not.

Only the faith of the authoritarians in their endlessness power is.

The Coliseum

In Inside Venezuela on agosto 4, 2010 at 11:36 am

Uribana Jail

When you are a prisoner in a venezuelan jail, one of the things that delays the most your presentation to court is the absence of a bus. So, as incredible as it sounds, You can only imagine how happy were the 45 prisoners scheduled to go to court last monday when they saw the bus getting to the “Uribana” prison that morning, right on time.

“You are not getting on that bus” said the authorities of the jail to the prisoners, “you have to come back: ‘the pope’ has ordered a ‘coliseum’”

“The pope” is the main leader of the prisoners in “Uribana”. He is the chief, the “pran”, and goverment authorities and prisoners obey him with no doubt.

“The coliseum” is a rare new practice were “the pope” gathers everybody around a field, and appoint two prisoners to fight with knives. There are rules, of course: no mortal wounds, and the cuts should only be on arms and legs. The winner, selects the next contestant. Every won battle, gives name and respect to the winner prisoner. Authorities do not intercede on the fights, unless they sense it could get “out of control” (talking about euphemism…) and, that monday morning, it did.

Violence has become an endemic disease in Venezuela, it is everywhere and it is fed, mainly, with an incredible absence of justice that, among other things, let 93% of the homicides go unpunished. In Venezuela, those behind the bars are not the guilty ones, but those resourceless.

That monday morning, with a little delay, the bus that arrived right on time departed from “Uribana”, not for court, but for the local hospital, with 33 injured.

A classic match

In Inside Venezuela on enero 25, 2010 at 8:38 pm
People around the world share a curious appeal for “classic matches”, where two teams with a long history of sport rivalry clash against each other on a game that usually tends to froze the city, and put on maximum alert the city authorities. It is not uncommon that the final result published on newspapers includes, not only the score, but also the final numbers of injuries and other damages to private and public property.


The favorite sport in Venezuela is baseball, and, of course, we have our classic match too: The “Lions” (the team from the capital) vs. “Magallanes” (the team with the most nationwide group of fans).


But in a country full of violence, where unofficial numbers claims that there are 4.5 millions of unregistered fire weapons, the baseball games between these teams have a very rare component: no violence at the stadium, no violence on the streets, only two clusters of fans teasing and screaming to each others. Violence is the exception, not the rule. Until last week.


Seizing the opportunity of major tv ratings of one of those games, a group of students unfold a giant message around the wall of the outfield. The message was: “3 strikes: no light, no water, no security…Chavez: you’re out”. It was a direct message to the president of the country, Hugo Chavez, who is currently facing a major energy crisis in one of the most oil-rich country of america.


Some statements are like guilt: they get bigger when you try to hide them. So, when the national guard attacked the 4 young students that displayed the banner against Chavez policies, although they were trying to hide the message, they ended up being recorded on camera, not the ones of commercial tv, of course, but in several cellular phones that are increasingly becoming, in every part of the world, the most dangerous weapon against authoritaniarism.


So the classical match of baseball in venezuela, ended up being transformed in the classical match of the world history: authoritaniarism against freedom of speech, censorship against word of mouth (now, “word of youtube”), uniforms against teenagers trying to get their voices heard on a country that is increasingly suscribing the terrible idea that violence, and not peaceful protest or negotiation, is the only way to move forward. Venezuelan young men and women (from all political views) are demostrating that hope, wisdom and even good humour are the only antidote against that dangerous thought.


Good for them, because actually history tends to repeat itself, and only those who lead through it give the nuance necessary to make it interesting.


History is a boring tale written by mirthful guys.


Here is the video

(Sur)reality TV (2)

In Inside Venezuela on enero 24, 2010 at 12:02 am

At this moment, all cable and satellite providers in venezuela had suspended the signal of RCTV

(Sur)reality TV

In Inside Venezuela on enero 23, 2010 at 8:50 pm

These are days of full expectancy in Venezuela.

Today, just when we are celebrating the 52nd anniversary of democracy, the venezuelan government announced that they are calling all cable and satellite tv providers to withdraw the signal of “some channels” from their grids. It was never said, but in Venezuela, everybody knows that the goal of that order is to finally take the signal of the channel RCTV off.

RCTV was an open channel until the government didn’t renewed the permissions needed to broadcast on public airwaves in 2007.

That movement alienated several followers of president Hugo Chavez, activated the student movement all around the country, and led to the first important electoral defeat of the president in 8 years.

Nevertheless, the government want to give the final “coup de grace”, to the private network RCTV for its hardline against them and now, all venezuelans with satellite or cable services are waiting (again) for the final broadcast of RCTV.
As in 2007, people of opposition views to the government is gathering to protest against the measure, surely enough people with the government will do the same…and in the middle, as usual, the first casualties will be the truth and common sense.

This is happening right now: some of the most influential young leaders of the student movement are already on the streets (even though it’s 10:30 pm) and some services providers (like directv, the one that I am monitoring) haven’t obbey the government.

As I write this, I asked to a friend who works (should I said “worked”?) at RCTV where she was, and the answer was this: “on my way to the channel, to witness the second closure of it…” Surreal, indeed.

Inside Venezuela

In Inside Venezuela on enero 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

Are you curious about what’s really happening in Venezuela? This a (very bad) english written blog that intends to give a unique view about the current situation inside this (my) country.

Join me trying to understand Venezuela. I don’t promise you full knowledge, but at least some fun, fact-based reasoning, and (hopefully) equilibrium in a very polarized land.

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