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Roy S. Carson: I've been torn off a strip by my good friend Patrick J. O'Donoghue

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VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: I've been torn off a strip by my good friend and colleague Patrick J. O'Donoghue for headlining a (Monday, October 13, 2008) editorial "Brown shirts are simply exchanged for red ... in Venezuela's headlong plunge into ambitions of a one-party dictatorship" in which I said that trying to explain the various lunacies prevailing in Venezuela's out-of-control governmental administration is a feat in itself.

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While, of course, "brown" shirts as opposed to Chavez' "red" makes certain historical allusions to the unfortunate happenings in 1930s Germany, the essence of the remark was to highlight the fact that the sheer fanaticism of seemingly militarized red-shirted Chavistas poses quite a frightening perspective in contemporary politics, whether it be in Venezuela or anywhere else in the world in any color you care to choose.

Patrick's and my own Irish backgrounds put particular accents on the militarization of colors -- the green or the orange of our homeland's particular sectarian divides which transcend any latent thought of the softer military-type organizational structures in, let's say, something as broadly understood as the Scouts.

In one thing, of many, that Patrick and I agree, is that the President is perhaps a trifle dismayed by the lack of overall support for his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) which he had thought would encompass and transform the totality of Venezuela's left-of-center political landscape to one cohesive gel of pan-socialist brotherhood, but which has lately shown acrid areas of dissent from resilient members of Patria Para Todos (PPT) and the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) as well as others in the Patriotic Alliance.

  • Of course, that dissidence has NOT been mollified any by President Hugo Chavez' publicly expressed characterization of anyone who disagrees with his PSUV party policy or its structure as "traitors" ... or that they should be swept out of the political arena like so much litter to be consigned to a convenient garbage can.
It's scarcely the language aimed at garnering support in a pre-election period, when the electoral field is already fuming over a succession of clangers dropped from varying heights, by ministers and government officials, who, either lack the administrational capacity to deal with matters of governance, or, who are so arrogant as to suppose there'll be a clique of 'compadres' within the administration with enough 'palanka' to sweep the various mishaps under a convenient carpet and out of sight.

In essence it's a veritable sliding back into the infamous practices of yesteryear when--before Chavez was swept to power in an overwhelming rout of Accion Democratica (AD)/Christian Socialist (Copei) Punto Fijo power-share corruption--impunity was rife and silly concepts such as democracy were easily set aside for political convenience and individual enrichment.

BUT ... Chavez was indeed elected on a ticket to bring impunity and corruption to an end. He had launched, in 1992, an unsuccessful coup d'etat just six years before his democratic election to the presidency and had paid the price behind bars at Yare Prison until doddery old President Rafael Caldera saw fit to cut Chavez' potential claim to martyrdom by issuing an unconditional presidential pardon and his immediate release from incarceration for having sought to free Venezuela from the earlier corrupt clutches of second-time-around President Carlos Andres Perez (CAP).

Chavez had, of course, signalled 'Por Ahora' (Just for Now!) when surrendering (on prime-time TV) in the closing stages of his February 4, 1992, coup attempt and, while he didn't physically lead any troops in a reenactment of a similar (equally unsuccessful) coup on November 28 that selfsame same year (1992), his concept of taking power in Venezuela was obviously back-burnered for a space of years until he had marshalled enough political, rather than purely military, force to realize his ambitions for the Presidency.

We can dispute the whys and wherefores of Chavez' political ambitions before the final results were announce at the end of the December 1998 elections, but Chavez did indeed pledge to govern democratically --he admitted that he was not Mandrake the Magician and could not perform miracles--but he pledged democratic governance and assured the citizens of his country that there would be drastic and positive changes in their circumstances, away from the almost feudal existences they had experienced for the previous half-century, a progression towards a more egalitarian society ... a noble dream!

The problem is that NOW, ten years on from that field of dreams, the red-shirted brigades of Chavistas in PSUV--at least to my perception of reality--are taking on a more ominous form that led me to the brown shirt analogy expressing my fears (shared by many readers who have written to me) that things are going more than simply beserk.

We have already seen incompetent government officials and equally incompetent cabinet ministers making all sorts of mistakes and having to have their faux-pas covered up at the cost of minions further down the bureaucratic food chain.

We've seen poorly paid pen-pushers in government offices turn to all sorts of corrupt practices, if only to supplement their existences while their regular pay gets diverted into some other budgetary channel, leaving their wallets empty, but to otherwise score from luckless Joe Public (Juan Gonzalez) who must ante up the 'baksheesh' or simply do without the requisite certificate, authorization or permit if he is otherwise averse to anointing the sticky fingers that help the administration machine go round in fits and starts.

At our peril we question why Chavez doesn't  act NOW! Why doesn't he do SOMETHING?

For God's Sake he's had ten years already ... so what's the problem?
  • If we knew the answers we'd be more than happy to relay them to you, but we're equally flummoxed by the retrograde actions of an administration that started out with fevered ambitions for a better tomorrow for ALL Venezuelans ... but then...

It was then we learned that in Venezuelan parlance MANANA does NOT translate as tomorrow (a new day dawning) but that rather abruptly and without remorse it means NOT TODAY!


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Roy S. Carson is veteran foreign correspondent (45+ years in the business) currently editor & publisher of VHeadline Venezuela reporting on news & views from and about Venezuela in South America -- available for interviews -- call Houston (more...)

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