Thursday, February 11, 2010

Venezuela's Talker-in-Chief

At first I thought this came from The Onion because it is so hilariously self-reverential and caricaturish.  Hugo Chávez has created a new radio program that has no schedule and whose sole purpose is to allow him to broadcast whatever he's thinking about 24/7.

Called "Suddenly, With Chavez," the show on state-run Venezuelan National Radio doesn't have a schedule and can be aired at any moment.

In the first program Monday, Chavez said it could be broadcast "at midnight or at dawn."

"We have many things to report," he said.

This is really only providing some sort of formal face to what he already does.  Kirk Hawkins has done work on the rhetoric of populism in Latin America (and is publishing a book on Venezuela) and this makes me wonder whether certain types of presidents talk more when they're under fire.


pc 8:51 AM  

Wow that's insane. I actually misread that at first and thought you were saying that it was from the Onion, and I was thinking, wow great bit.

Anonymous,  9:26 AM  

Next step is to follow Mr. Pompadour in North Korea. There the civilians are treated to speakers in their homes w/o the ability to shut off the volume when the govt. interrupts dinner.

Slave Revolt,  1:27 PM  

Wow, doesn't Chavez know that only the rich are allowed to broadcast propaganda anytime.

And Greg, why would Chavez feel compelled to talk more when US backed destabilization is being ratcheted up. What a dummy!

Anyway, these decontextualized propaganda and a of Chavez are par for the course for the intellectual classes here in the US. Thankfully, there are others covering Latin American affairs who have the balls and honesty to provide readers with a more nuanced view.

We all know that Greg's analysis fequently comes up short--just as Chomsky and Herman's propaganda model predicts.

Vicente Duque 2:11 PM  

Loquaciousness is very characteristic of Latin American Dictators and "Strong Men" ...

Not only is Chavez a cataract of foolishness, demagoguery and nonsense.

I am told that Alvaro Uribe of Colombia has exploded in talking too much in the Radio, TV, etc ...

The guy may sense that he is going to be defeated in the "Referendum" and that people are going to stay home. Or better and less expensive, a Constitutional Court and Supreme Court are going to block him.

"Referendums" have always been favorite tools of Tyrannts like Napoleon, Hitler, Franco, Pinochet, Chavez, etc ...

A Presidential Incumbent is an insuperable obstacle for a presidential challenger in Latin America, a subcontinent where being in government is the same as plundering and sacking the Public Monies and depleting the treasure in favor of relatives, friends and cronies.

The Governments of Latin America are very shameful, consider these ladies Michelle Bachelet of Chile and that Lady of Argentina always fawning over Hugo Chavez and exploiting his foolish and generous pockets.

Fortunately Bachelet can not go for Chavez anymore.

And talking of Loquaciousness nobody defeats Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega, ridiculous despots.

In the case of Ortega he creates international trouble for Colombia ( as Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa ) in order to hide, difuse and difuminate their economic failure.

The most aberrant case is Evo Morales criticizing Alvaro Uribe in economic matters as if Colombia were not a richer and more prosperous country than Bolivia.

Latin America ends up being a Subcontinent of Loquacious Idiots, sick with leresis, a psychotic illness characterized by rambling talkativeness (especially in the aged). And very adict to ruling by Fiat, Ukase, Decree, Imperial Edict and Papal Bull, like Alvaro Uribe.

I pray that this will be the sunset of Alvaro Uribe, that has been called "The guy that had a successful idea and nothing more" ...

The "Successful idea" was to combat the FARC terrorists, but now Alvaro Uribe is a minus for Colombia, and fatal for that country in International Relations, like persuading the U. S. Congress for trade, help, etc ...

And sending Colombians to die in Afghanistan is not going to make the trick.

The Future of Foreign Policies :

Vicente Duque

Justin Delacour 4:30 PM  

Okay, so Venezuela's president wants to go on TV at odd hours. Why is this supposed to be of any particular interest to a political scientist?

The style of Venezuelan politics is of much less interest to me than the substance of Venezuelan politics. Unfortunately, a superficial (and largely distorting) focus upon Chavez's style is most of what passes for "analysis" in the United States.

Anonymous,  5:38 PM  


Do you think Chavez will go the 'full monty' and become full dictator like Castro? I wonder how long his slow-motion strangle of democracy in Venezuela can go on.

Anonymous,  10:04 PM  

Gee, I wonder if how a political leader interacts with citizens qualifies as a substantive criteria for a political scientist to investigate?

At least since Marshall McLuhan stated "the media is the message," social scientists have understood the answer as affirmative.

For someone who criticizes everyone for their stupidity (meaning wayward ideological tendencies), this is a pinched defense of Chavez.

Justin Delacour 12:20 AM  

this is a pinched defense of Chavez.

Actually, my point isn't even about Chavez, much less a "defense of Chavez." My point is that those who are mesmerized by the personage and style of Chavez can't really tell us much about the substance of Venezuelan politics. Such "analysis" doesn't tell us anything about how (or whether) Venezuelans participate in the political process, whether the Venezuelan political system is (or is not) responsive to popular demands, etc. etc.

Rather, this sort of "analysis" is rooted in an ideological schema characteristic of U.S. political culture. The effect is to grossly simplify any rival state's politics by focusing upon the style and personage of a leader to the exclusion of all else.

Anonymous,  7:33 PM  

Silly, me. I thought how Evita said it mattered. Same with Castro and FDR. Yes, in many cases style and substance are in fact intertwined. The false dichotomy is to say US critics are waylaid by style is a bogus point. The style is indicative of the substance. Do you think it meant anything when the King of France walked through the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles everyday? The political choice here is made by Chavez and is guided by the interaction with both his supporters and opponents. In how he communicates he is making a substantive political message. It may be hard to understand but it is there.

Justin Delacour 10:03 PM  

The false dichotomy is to say US critics are waylaid by style is a bogus point.

Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree on that one. I happen to think that, when you and Greg allow yourselves to be mesmerized by your perceptions of Chavez's style, you're limiting your own ability to think for yourselves and instead allowing your own culture's highly distorting lens to do much of your "thinking" for you. Greg's "analysis" of Venezuelan politics is extremely superficial. There's never any discussion here about the nature of citizen political participation in Venezuelan society. There's never any discussion here about social policy in Venezuela. All I ever see here is an attempt to personalize Venezuelan politics and demonize the Venezuelan government in exactly the same way that our dominant culture demonizes every other rival state. You and Greg might not want to admit it, but there is a script to what you do.

Boli-Nica 5:51 PM  

lmao...Delacour wants this to be in the context of Venezuelan politics and social policies.

As in, Chavez has pretty much achieved hegemony over the Venezuelan state. And that a key component of his rule has been the use of mass media. Both by expanding state media, making himself omni-present in all media, and constricting private sector media. And that this is a continuation of this strategy, whether thought out well or more spontaneous...

Justin Delacour 11:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Delacour 11:59 PM  

Delacour wants this to be in the context of Venezuelan politics and social policies.

Yes, I do. A discussion of politics is supposed to tell us something about the broader polity. Here, however, there is no discussion of what Chavismo actually means to the broader polity of Venezuela. That's the problem.

Steve Ellner sums up the point nicely when he writes that a "bias" in favor of focusing upon "the style and discourse" of Chavez as opposed to the "concrete results" of his presidency "characterizes much of the formal and informal discussion of the Chavez phenomenon."

Anonymous,  1:49 PM  

I wonder if maybe that has something to do with the Dear Leader's intentions. There is rampant inflation, currency devaluations, record levels of violence, censorship of the opposition, power outages, arbitrary expropriations, and ongoing social disintegration in Venezuela today. Is it the foreign media or Chavez himself who seeks to substitute questions of style for substance? Does Chavez really think he and his minions knows how to run a super store more efficiently than a French conglomerate? No, he is creating a distraction away from problems that the Venezuelan govt. is responsible for. No amount of television show/playing baseball/dancing with Fidel hokery can cover up the failures of demagogic populism. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always pays. In this case style and substance remain inseparable. The last stage of this drama is martyrdom or exile.

Justin Delacour 3:04 PM  

There is rampant inflation, currency devaluations, record levels of violence, censorship of the opposition, power outages, arbitrary expropriations, and ongoing social disintegration in Venezuela today.

The problem is that you just pick and choose which "facts" to focus upon and which not to. All the evidence of greater popular participation in Venezuela's politics, expanded social services, and a less unequal distribution of wealth are conveniently ignored.

That's not to say there aren't problems in Venezuela (such as the crime rate), but an actual discussion involves putting everything on the table, not just those bits and pieces that fit your biased narrative.

I would suggest that you read the Ellner article because your highly biased rendering of the "facts" cannot explain why Chavez has won so many elections.

Anonymous,  3:44 PM  

Venezuela is an economic disaster that's getting worse. A national oil company that can't pay its bills and whose production stagnates or falls, the highest inflation rate in the region, one of the most dangerous countries in the region as well, and the gradual destruction of all opposition and institutions.

The only good news is that Chavez as an example to others is now dead and the rest of the region will continue to abandon him. Too bad for Venezuelans he remains president though.

Justin Delacour 4:31 PM  

Once again, I would suggest reading the Ellner article instead of spouting distortions. The notion that Venezuela is undergoing "the gradual destruction of all opposition and institutions" is completely absurd.

You're never gonna really understand the phenomenon of Chavismo if you refuse to see the actual sources of its domestic appeal.

It's never wise to underestimate your enemy, anonymous. It makes for muddled thinking.

Boli-Nica 5:26 PM  

lol...according to that crank Ellner's criteria, Hitler and Mussolini circa 1934 would have been cool, because they had advanced levels of "popular mobilization" and "empowerment", (everything from the SA, block c committees, Hitler Youth). Actually both would probably better than Chavez, because at least they ranked better in terms of "organizational development" Mussolini - unlike Chavez - made the trains run in time.

Nice find.....some quasi-totalitarian crackpot

Anonymous,  6:43 PM  


The Latin 'extreme' left (Chavez, Ortega, Morales) is all quasi-totalitarian, as are their supporters.

Boli-Nica 7:21 PM  

The Latin 'extreme' left (Chavez, Ortega, Morales) is all quasi-totalitarian, as are their supporters.

well yeah, you look at Ellner's scribblings. All he is doing is recyclying the old notion of "popular democracy". At the very least a rejection of liberal democracy ("bourgeois democracy) with its checks and balances.
Whether they state it directly or not, it ALWAYS ends up being class warfare. And they end up needing a dedicated group of "revolutionaries" to lead the proles, and more importantly in illuminating them.
Which in many ways is just another variation of what the Nazis did in the 20's and 30's.

Justin Delacour 8:00 PM  

Nice find.....some quasi-totalitarian crackpot

Actually, what Ellner writes is about 30 times more nuanced than your own rants, and he happens to be vastly more knowledgeable about the subject because he's lived in Venezuela for over 30 years. The "quasi-totalitarian" label is plainly absurd in light of the fact that Ellner encourages debate within the Left and criticizes Chavismo for not engendering such debate. My guess is that you didn't even read past the first few pages of the article.

Moreover, Boli-Nica, your whole analysis is a contradiction in terms. One minute you'll scream that there's "quasi-totalitarianism" in Venezuela. The next minute you'll defend Alvaro Uribe and completely gloss over the fact that the man is personally complicit in endangering the lives of critics of his regime.

It's hard to take you seriously when it's so obvious that you lack a consistent set of principles.

Boli-Nica 10:22 PM  

LMAO....Delacour you are a funny,

Contradictions, hypocrisy? Chavez was exposed as backing the murderous, Communist FARC - yet you still continue to denying what any half-wit can clearly see are the facts.

You obsess over US bases in Colombia and what a "threat" it is to your beloved Chavez. But then Chavez imports thugs from the Cuban apparat like Ramiro Valdés and bootlicking fellow travellers like you say nothing.

Justin Delacour 12:52 AM  

You, Boli-Nica, are well-known as being an unreliable source of information, so I'm not gonna get drawn into some antiquated discussion about wild and unproven allegations against Venezuela.

What I will say is that it is crystal clear from this whole discussion that you lack basic ethical standards. I'm more than happy to acknowledge certain errors and ethical breaches on the part of Chavismo because it would be silly to idealize any political movement. You, on the other hand, will not come to terms with the fact that your own political heroes have a ton of dirty laundry. The fact that you won't acknowledge the severity of the Uribe government's abuses belies all the lip service you pay to political freedom.

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