Sunday, 24 March 2013

Venezuela's just getting crazier by the day

Sorry, it's becoming so difficult to write about Venezuela. It's just too crazy. Our old Bolivar personality cult light, which became more and more pathetic and mutated into a double-personality cult around Bolívar and Chávez, is being transformed into something even worse after Chávez's death. You just need to check out the state (i.e. Chavista) channel site to see that. Maduro, Chávez's Anointed One, talks at the same time like a spoiled child and like a thug. First, he goes on for hours about how the opposition is using the national symbols for themselves when they belong to Chavismo. He talks about the fascist "oligarchy", apparently ignoring what -archy means. On other occasions Maduro keeps making chauvinist comments about Capriles.
The Madhouse

Then the minister for "trade" announces 200 containers with Chinese washing machines, mixers, refrigerators, arrived...and she says they will be sold "at socialist prices", which are prices you see anywhere else in the world. Because of the strict currency exchange control, most people importing have to get dollars at the black market, making things more expensive. The Chávez government (as it is Chávez's corpse the one in control) has pawned Venezuelan oil in order to distribute those Chinese products for election time.

The economy is under heavy strain. As others have explained earlier, the government carried out some new form of devaluation - masqueraded as new mechanism to get more dollars-. And yet it still hasn't figured out how to implement the whole mess. We only know it will begot more corruption. Maduro speaks at a rally and there is a blackout...but his followers don't seem to care - for they have faith.

If you see the comments among Chavistas, you realise the cult to Chávez keeps getting more and more grotesque contours. And this seems to go hand in hand with other forms of extreme cults.

There has always been a lot of superstition in Venezuela, but in the last decade or so there has been an explosion of fringe religious movements: the old María Lionza Cult has been strengthened by Cuban rites, which often come together with Cuban mafia groups - many Santeros seem to be into more than prayers. Lots of malandros - slum thugs - firmly believe this or that thug-saint will keep them a similar way as some tribes in Eastern Congo think that performing this or that rite will make them immune to bullets.

The evangelicals who came to Venezuela decades ago mostly from the US have also mutated into a lot of independent groups. Baptists tend to be opposition-minded, but many other groups, specially those sects that go into very "emotional" outbursts - Pentecostal groups and others - tend to go for Chavismo. It's quite amazing to read their messages in support of the most radical elements of Chavismo, messages full of threats and insults, and then see they consider themselves "Christians who love Jesus above all".

The country is becoming more dysfunctional by the day. Blackouts abound. Real jobs are scarcer than ever. Crime goes on unabated. And yet: the government still has more goodies to distribute - at least until election day next month - and you see people buying iPads and Blackberrys and eating US American chickens, US salmon, Argentine meat and Dominican black beans and firmly believing millions in Europe are starving.

It's hard to write about Venezuela.

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