Saturday, June 02, 2007

RCTV aftermath

Let’s set aside the normative debate over RCTV for a moment (debated very extensively here) and just address the political implications. I have to wonder whether Chávez grasped how extensive the outcry would be. At least for the moment, what he’s done is to breath new life into a splintered opposition. A week ago, outside Venezuela virtually no one had heard of RCTV, but now opposition leaders and RCTV executives get more attention than ever. A google news search of “rctv” gives me 2,742 results from all over the world.

The government claims that the protests are all manipulated, though thus far the evidence they present is thin at best. For Chávez, however, it’s a moot point—controlled or not, manipulated or not, the protests started because he handed his opponents a gift on a golden platter. They needed an issue to grab onto, something to unite them and to bring unfavorable international attention. Now let's see whether this escalates or whether it just eventually fizzles out.

15 comments:

boz 9:11 AM  

I think he's both surprised by the level of condemnation and angered by it. The combination of criticisms and domestic protests are not the media image he wants to present.

In terms of whether the protests last, my guess is that they will die down over the next week or two to a more manageable level.

The question I have is whether these protests led to some new youth leadership outside of traditional opposition parties and new social networks. While these protests are highly unlikely to reach critical mass, if those social networks were formed, they could mean bigger protests a few months from now when the next issue comes up.

Justin Delacour 7:44 PM  

Much ado about nothing, Greg. What most Venezuelans see is a bunch of spoiled, lily white brats from eastern Caracas who don't --and won't-- have the political capital to do squat with this. The children of Caracas' upper-middle class don't have the level of commitment, discipline and sacrifice to build a viable political movement. The demise of Primero Justicia is a case in point.

The Chavez government's only mistake has been to overreact rhetorically to the protests. The government ought to just be quiet and let the brats do the fizzle.

Greg Weeks 8:30 PM  

When was the last time Chavez stayed quiet?

KA 10:09 PM  

What I think is interesting is how little the political opposition has said. What we see is almost a third movement that is excluding both the government and opposition (politicians).

I have read some statements made by student representatives (also students) and they are truly level headed and exhibit a level of maturity that is lacking among the politicians.

It is about time the students are being vocal

Justin Delacour 3:58 AM  

When was the last time Chavez stayed quiet?

Indeed, he tends to respond to provocation easily; sometimes it's merited, other times he would be better off just letting his spokespeople do the talking.

Boli-Nica 11:31 AM  

In general: Fact is that RCTV is the oldest TV station in Venezuela (one of the oldest in South America too), it has been around since the 50's. It leads the ratings - watched by many poor people w/out cable/satellite.

Internally: Polls showed majorities were against the measure. According to Petkoff the "cacelorazos" -- banging of pots and pans was also heard in poor neighborhoods. Some Chavista leaders have privately said that it was "heavyhanded" decision.
--at the least it will create some mistrust between some poor Chavista supporters and the government.

The station is arguably an institution. People watch it because of its awful novelas and shows with scantily clad women. You take that away, justify the decision with all sorts of rhetoric. If you are poor, think you have some sort of bond with the leader, you can feel some sort of betrayal. Particularly when you have watched this channel all your life, and have invested in three months in a novela. On a very abstract level it brings up the point that if the leader listened to the people in the past, he did not do it now. Suddenly claims of his arrogance and power hunger make much more sense.

Boli-Nica 11:58 AM  

The ones who don't care, because they do have cable, satellite - and private security guards in their houses...are the Chavista borgeousie, including governent officials and friends of the Chavez. Not to mention the old money Venezuelans and opportunists who were either paid off by Chavez through lucrative contracts, service the nouveau-riche, or have some sort of "in" to directly join the massive looting of Venezuela's oil revenues going on right now.

In the end, if things really go bad,and Chavez turns on them...they always have their condos in Miami - with plenty of money stashed abroad to pay for Hi Definition TV. .

Justin Delacour 5:36 PM  

The ones who don't care, because they do have cable, satellite - and private security guards in their houses...are the Chavista borgeousie, including governent officials and friends of the Chavez. Not to mention the old money Venezuelans and opportunists who were either paid off by Chavez through lucrative contracts, service the nouveau-riche, or have some sort of "in" to directly join the massive looting of Venezuela's oil revenues going on right now.

Uh, actually, boli-nica, I'm quite sure that if you were to do a demographic analysis of those who have cable and satellite in Venezuela, you would find that they're mostly opposition.

Boli-Nica 10:09 AM  

Uh, actually, boli-nica, I'm quite sure that if you were to do a demographic analysis of those who have cable and satellite in Venezuela, you would find that they're mostly opposition.

Talking about the really rich.

Might like the opposition and even hate Chavez, but got bought off by things like contracts for sale of oil, where they collect multi-million dollar commissions, paid in out-of-country banks, as El Nuevo Herald detailed. Others are Chavez crony "businessmen" with lucrative contracts to supply PDVSA the army or the government. And others are within PDVSA and the government and are milking it for all its worth, like the PDVSA director- who does so well on his salary that his twenty-something kid tooled around in a 200,000 Lamborghini in Miami - till he crashed it -- Or the Chavistas, who can afford to buy 3 condos in luxury highrises in Miami.

mike a,  12:25 PM  

Well stated, boli-nica. Chavez and his cronies are a long way from stealing all they can steal from the Venezuelan people. They will need a good 10-20 more years in power to really drain the coffers completely. What is fondly described as socialism by its supporters usually entails stealing from the "old money" and creating a new money class of former leftists who become so drunk by their newfound wealth that their so-called goals of helping the common people become nothing but a memory.

Justin Delacour 3:06 PM  

Boli-Nica, do you honestly think that many Chavistas want to buy luxury highrises in Miami, of all places??

You might want to lighten up on the dogma a little. One shouldn't get swept away with his or her own propaganda.

All this crap about how thousands of Chavistas are supposedly rolling in new Hummers nowadays is just that: crap.

KA 9:55 AM  

Justin,

"Rolls Royce luxury vehicles in Venezuela have soared. The model that costs US$1 million has sold 200 units and counting in 2007. The company thought it would only sell seven."

Um, you might want to look into the Miami thing Justin because your wrong. BTW, La Lagunita is the new posh Chavista enclave

Justin Delacour 1:33 AM  

"Rolls Royce luxury vehicles in Venezuela have soared. The model that costs US$1 million has sold 200 units and counting in 2007. The company thought it would only sell seven."

And??

Has it occurred to you, KA, that, over the last three years, Venezuelan GDP has grown somewhere on the order of 40 percent? Sure there are people who are banking in Venezuela. Nevertheless, your little quote tells us nothing about who's buying those Roll Royces.

It's stunning to witness the nonsense that passes for analysis among the Venezuelan opposition.

Boli-Nica 6:13 PM  

^^^ of course many "Chavistas want to buy luxury highrises in Miami".Real estate is a fixed asset, can't be frozen like a bank account. Produces some income, theoretically appreciates. Through quit-claims and layers of ownership, owners can remain anonymous.

Venezuelans are the single largest purchasers of investment real estate in Miami-Dade - meaning condo units rented by tenants with a median price 300,000 - not summer homes. Luxury home brokers go to Caracas to offer properties directly, one realtor alone, sold $30 million worth of properties to Venezuelans this way. This is not the old money that left after 02. This flow is coming and has not stopped.

Your average "Boliburges" rocking on the PDVSA dime - and random rich types have fixers who send money out to offshore accounts in places like the Caymans. Invoices from the Venezuelan government, can explain away origin of proceeds to Feds. Then money wired to US bank, as a "loan" or investment $. Buy high rise condos, title held in the name of relative, a trust, or LLC. Voila....you pulled a fast one on Uncle Hugo. Denial all around!

Boli-Nica 9:04 PM  

Anyways whats the point? Its impossible to deny the widespread corruption in Venezuelas government. Its been a textbook case of a rentist economy for about 80 + years, through the AD and COPEI years... But by concentrating economic power through things like breaking the autnomomy of PDVSA and the weakening the Central Bank, Chavez has simply created more avenues for corruption.

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