March 31, 2006

Mismanaging the Looting

I like Juan Carlos Zapata's style...
The decay of the powerful seems unstoppable
Since there are no parties, there are cliques, and within the cliques some subcliques dominate. With the subcliques the situation is just about uncontrollable. There are no bosses able to make deals. No leaders to sustain agreements. The lack of leadership becomes a problem, it's hard to control the cliques to the point that you see them starting to use mafia methods.


We used to have parties and so power could always find ways to solve problems by talking. Today, there are no parties, not even in the government. The fight is between cliques, and cliques fighting over loot. That's what the struggle inside the governments boils down to. There is no ideological struggle. There is no political struggle. There isn't even a struggle for control of the party machine. There's a struggle over deals. Over booty.


It used to be that the money men, the people who make deals placing government deposits in private banks, were known entities, few in number, and playing by recognized rules of the game. Today there are any number, answering to different interests and each applies his own methods that can go from breaking their word to blackmail and police or judicial threats. Not long ago a bank had to hire a police expert to get rid of not one but several cliques threatening its stability. Those cliques have offices in Caracas luxury buildings.

Since the government is like an incompetence tournament, those in powerful positions hurry the pace to divvy up contracts, to grab funds, to help their families, their friends, to open up bank accounts abroad. Of course, in public each speaks vehemently about the moral health of the nation, to make sure people keep buying this story about a revolution. And yet, the contractors, the money men, the experts on how to do business from abroad develop links with people from the world of intelligence gathering, of the police, elements whose culture is one of pressure, blackmail and even crime. And that's how they come to form networks, "midget tribes", run by a "donna" or by a civilian or military bigwig. The party becomes a second thought. The government a third thought. The country their last thought.

And so the internal fight is onto death. What few leaders there are can't control the dynamics of corruption or the methods that come to be used in the scramble for loot. The actors themselves can't sleep at night. They feel they're being recorded. They're being followed. That there are conspiracies afoot to displace them from a governorship, a mayor's office, a ministry, a deal. When paranoia reaches such heights, controls whither and cliques rise up. Then the game takes on a new hue. And so, fear runs rampant. Nobody, in power, can sleep easy at night.