14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 18 September 2014 — Lately, the Cuban personnel contracted by the Venezuelan Embassy in Havana are in the doldrums: there will be cutbacks among the long list of employees and no one knows exactly how many or who will end up “damaged.” It is rumored that when diplo-bureaucrats drop the guillotine–probably with the recommendations of the sinister Cuban advising commissioners–there will be a lot of Cuban workers “available.”
In case there is any doubt, not a single one of them is ever late or absent, though they were once the beneficiaries of all the Venezuelan petro-extravagances. All of a sudden, all personal problems, the irregular attendance, the requests for early leaves to attend parent-teacher conferences or doctors’ appointments ceased. As if by magic, discipline in the workplace has improved tremendously. No more playing computer games, gossiping about current TV soap operas which relieved the afternoon office boredom, and no more long telephone calls on the account of the Venezuelan exchequer.
The impending readjustment, however, should not surprise anyone. In recent months there were already signs that augured hard times: wages have been cut, lunches have lost their quality, size and variety, the “stimuli” and other benefits became more scarce, until they disappeared, as did the gargantuan parties for whatever reason, with eating and drinking galore, the ones that were attended by everybody, even the cat. Because, in the very Chavez and Bolivarian Embassy everybody was a big, happy family regardless of their rank and occupation, as befits genuine popular revolutions.
In Miraflores there is an alarming depletion of the “people’s” coffers and the time is now to limit the distribution and to cut the ribbons off the piñata
Everything points to an alarming decline, in faraway Miraflores, in the “peoples” coffers, and the time has come to limit distribution and cut the ribbons off the piñata so that only the highly anointed can reach them.
The cutbacks that the Venezuelan Embassy is applying in Havana are just an insignificant echo of a general strategy of patches and ineffective improvisations with which President Nicolas Maduro is trying to stop the most significant economic collapse that this rich nation has suffered in decades, which also include such draconian measures as a digital ration card–because poverty must keep pace with technological advances–an ill-advised policy of “fair prices” that triggered smuggling and corruption, as well as shortages of food and other staples in the markets, and also the irrational multiplication of the government’s bureaucratic apparatus to “control” the holes through which both capital and loyalties are escaping.
Preaching Poverty (of others)
The governments of democratic nations congratulate themselves when the standard of living rises under their administration. That said, any individual with a modicum of common sense should mistrust any government that declares that poverty is a virtue, and, as a consequence, a support for that country’s socio-political system. Such logic suggests that what that government will do then is foment poverty, since the more poor people there are, the more political capital there will be, and the more support the rulers will be able to count on.
In contrast, those who say they govern “for the poor” declare, as one of their main objectives, “to combat poverty”. However, in practice, they increase it and make it more acute, while they get richer. It’s axiomatic. One of the more conspicuous examples of this is the Nicaraguan Daniel Ortega, who had a meteoric metamorphosis from guerrilla to millionaire in his first term, when that “poor Nicaraguan people’s” revolution won out. However, poverty must have its charms, as Ortega was re-elected to the presidency in Nicaragua while Chavez, on his own time, was re-elected in Venezuela and, more recently, his disciple, Nicolas Maduro, was elected, though with a questionable margin. Meanwhile, the Cuban poor are so busy trying to survive poverty that for over half a century they have had no idea what presidential elections are.
These marginal and raucous sectors, prone to violence, are used by dictatorial regimes to suppress the disaffected.
Thus, the comment by Mr. Tarek el Aissami’s, governor of the state of Aragua, that loyalty to Chavez is greater the poorer the individual, follows the same principle of all “socialist” revolutions but it is not accurate: he did not refer to “the poor” as people of low income and few opportunities, but these marginal and raucous sectors, prone to violence, that are used by dictatorial regimes to intimidate and repress the disaffected. Afterwards, the Bolivarian project aims to sustain itself politically, not with the support of the poor–a growing sector–but with the terror imposed through these groups of thugs who have been sanctioned by the authorities to trample any civil complaint with impunity.
Because the truth is that, while the standard of living of Venezuelans has been falling hopelessly in recent years, particularly since the coming to power of Comrade Maduro, instead of Chavez’s supporters growing in numbers, protesters and anti-government protests have been increasing.
A bottomless barrel is not a barrel
It’s a given that every regime that tries to politically anchor itself on populist bases takes over the national and the private treasuries, not only as their own, but as if they were inexhaustible. Thus, they regard the coffers of the State to be bottomless barrels. Castro’s regime in Cuba is an old example of this, and Chavez’s Venezuelan regime today constitutes the most shocking paradigm if one takes into account the magnitude of wasted assets and the looting that have undermined that nation’s vast oil wealth in just 15 years.
Uncontrolled expenditures of the country’s wealth so it can develop “solidarity” programs with regimes akin to its ideals in the region, in an attempt to expand the old “socialist-imperialist” epidemic, expensive and unsustainable social programs, the squandering of public assets by the so-called Bolivarian bourgeoisie and its partners, among other bunch of nonsense, were not Maduro’s [In-Mature] initiatives but policies developed by him have precipitated and exacerbated their effects.
Thanks to the massive raid of Venezuelan oil treasure, we have witnessed the artificial extension of our vernacular dictatorship for almost 15 years
Today, when the economic absurdity of the Chavez project is reaching its highest point, and Venezuela, at the height of inefficiency and administrative corruption, is forced to turn to the international market to import the light crude needed to process its own oil, Nicolas Maduro’s fatal historical destiny emerges ever more clearly: the heir, by the will of the messianic departed, of authority that exceeds his meager capabilities, will end up assuming, all alone, the responsibility that should rest primarily on the founder of the madness, his mentor Hugo Chavez, now transmuted into an innocent little bird.
Thus, when the Chavez vessel eventually sinks in the waters of its own failure, its founder–who did not live long enough to pay the price of that hallucination he once termed “XXI Century Socialism”–will remain etched in the memory of millions of Latin American zombies as the philanthropist, the illustrious leader who plotted the itinerary; while Nicolas Maduro will pay the piper for a feast that will continue to cost today’s and tomorrow’s Venezuelans dearly.
Nice Cubans have much to feel sorry for in this regard, since, thanks to that massive raid of the Venezuelan oil treasury by the Chavez elite, we have been aided in artificially prolonging our vernacular dictatorship for almost 15 years.
Translated by Norma Whiting