Saturday, August 27, 2005

Pat Robertson, 5 days later

Now that all the hoopla about Pat Robertson's Chavez assassination comments has died, Venezuelan bloggers can get on with their lives. Hours after "the event" web traffic saw a huge increase, to the point of moving some of the Venezuelan blogs to top 10 lists in the blogging world. Now you won't find a mention of it in the regular media, so I can now add my two cents, and elaborate on the consequences. The best response to Pat's outburst was the Venezuelan humor crowd: "Who do these gringos think they are!, if they want to kill Chavez they have to get in line..., like the rest of us!!." Not that I condone Pat's outrageous comments, I don't think that anyone, that calls himself a Christian, should blatantly disregard the sixth commandment that haphazardly. But for all practical purposes, given Pat's history, it could have been a non-event, and it was mostly so in Venezuela. To me a much more significant event was when a Cardinal of the Venezuelan Catholic church, personal assistant to Pope John Paul II, called Chavez a dictator heading the "worst goverment that Venezuela has had" and stopped short of just calling him a psycopath, an assessment that many of us share, and Gustavo Coronel will tell you why. But did you see any of this in the international media?, I seriously doubt it. Side note: have you noticed how Pat's extempore comments dropped Ms. Sheehan from the news scene?. The Venezuelan Blogger attitude was also very mild, almost to the point of taking the whole hoopla as a nuisance, partially because we have lived with this guy for quite a few years now, and probably, deeply inside, overtly, secretly, or even subconsciously, a lot of Venezuelans might have harbored similar thoughts, several times, in that long period. So understandably, it could be a somewhat uncomfortable topic. And having the blogs inundated with people that have no idea of all that has been discussed during the last 4 years, trying to make sense of it all, could have been perceived as a drag. In Venezuela, as opposed to the US, we don't need Pat Robertson, Michael Jackson, Cindy Sheehan, or P. Diddy, to keep us "entertained." Government-related scandals can happen multiple times a day. Only one of Chavez's very, very, long weekly addresses could provide enough fodder for a couple of months of editorials. However, there is a positive side and a negative side to anything. Now, after Pat's statement, a large majority of Americans know that there is this guy called "Chavez" that presides a country called "Venezuela" which happens to have a lot of oil and is a major US supplier, and would probably pay a little more attention to what happens there. I personally got asked by many of my coworkers about my opinion on the matter and on "who is this Chavez guy?," creating, for me, a "show your dictator at work" day. But at the same time, the comment itself gave a lot of fodder to the Chavez propaganda machine, and, why be PC about it?, to leftist wackos. So much so that some of the same blog comment sections became insufferable, with illuminating rational arguments like: "liar, liar, liar, liar, liar...," coming from someone that probably doesn't even know where Venezuela is, directed to a bunch of people that were born or live in Venezuela. The nerve!!. Of course, if you are one of the leftist wackos, and you have read this far, you are already thinking: "this is a racist oligarch working for the imperialist forces," so I will refer you to my opinion on meaningless labels in a previous post. This attitude, which for almost obvious reasons is mostly extreme left-wing, is not surprising, since they have been a target of the Chavez's left-leaning message and his propaganda machine for quite some time. Part of the efforts headed by the Venezuelan Information Office, or VIO for short (1, 2, and many others). Even internauts' normally trusted sources like the Wikipedia (which saw a massive traffic to the Chavez entry) is not that trustworthy, as Chavez's minions seem to have their hands into maintaining their Venezuelan-related entries. Thanks to Wikipedia's pacate attitude towards dictator biographies, and the Chavista supervision, which can be seen in the discussions in the disputes section, more than one person is now better misinformed than ever. People would have been better served with a trip to the less biased, and briefer, dictator of the month biography. Don't take my word for it, take a look at the photographs I chose to illustrate this post with, which were taken in a political event against Chavez, in what probably is the widest of all Venezuelan highways, the days before the 2004 recall referendum, you won't see anything of this sort in Wikipedia (hint: it shows that there is a really big opposition). So, now that the dust has settled, we are starting to see some US groups that get it, with quotes like this from the Center for Security Policy:
Time is running out. Venezuela’s increased pace of repression, militarization, weapons imports, and destabilization of neighboring countries shows that time is running out for the Venezuelan people and for the relative peace that most of the hemisphere has enjoyed. The Bolivarian regime in Caracas presents a clear and present danger to peace and democracy in the hemisphere. It must change. It can change on its own, or it can invite hemispheric forces with the help of Venezuela’s broad democratic opposition, to impose the changes. Either way U.S. strategy must be to help Venezuela accomplish peaceful change by next year.
Which, following in Pat's wake, they published in a very concise and complete document (pdf), with very reasonable suggestions on how to deal with Chavez. The US, through the Carter Center and the OAS, missed a huge opportunity a year ago on the referendum for the removal of Chavez from the presidency. And don't get me wrong, it's not that the Venezuelan opposition did not mess up big time back then, but the right pressure, in the right places, could have helped a lot. So now let's hope that all this fuss generates enough public pressure to detach these parasites that are leeching away the present and future of Venezuela. The moral of this story might be something that Hollywood learned a long time ago: Even bad publicity, sometimes, can be good for your cause.
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