December 6, 2007

Der Untergang

Katy says: Try as I might, it's impossible to look away. President Chávez's reaction to his dramatic loss in Sunday's referendum keeps getting weirder and weirder.

I've been itching to move beyond Chávez and start talking more about the future, the opposition and its options. But he continues to monopolize all attention due, in large part, to his bizarre behavior. It's like watching someone have a very public nervous breakdown.

And while I fancy myself more of an amateur political analyst than shrink, his behavior reminds me so much of that great German movie, Der Untergang (The Downfall), about Hitler's last days. It's all recrimination, all crazy talk, all the time.

The weird thing is that, last Sunday, Chávez did not meet his Waterloo, merely his Stalingrad. Any rational politician would take stock and begin planning his comeback. I guess it's a sign of Chávez's enormous need for power that he feels any temporary setback is a definitive end.

Chávez, coge mínimo y no te arrechéis con el pueblo...

(Notice: despite all appearances, the following is not a parody, but my translation of a real press note.)

Chavez slams allies, saying it's their fault he will have to leave power in 2013

In a political rally held at Caracas' Poliedrito, President Hugo Chávez reiterated that he will remain in power until 2013, because some of the people present did not go to vote last Sunday. "As I stated December 2nd, I have been thinking the past few days and I have to leave the government in 2012. You did not approve the reform, so therefore I have to go."

"Shout all you want, the truth is the truth, the Sí lost in Miranda, lost in Caracas, and write this down, the Sí lost in Petare, in the barrios, people didn't vote, a good chunk of the people didn't vote, millions didn't vote, you can say whatever you want but you have no excuse, you have no consciousness, you have no resolve for the fatherland, you have no excuse, revolutionaries don't look for excuses."

He criticized that now people might be saying "that the reason is that I don't like such and such mayor or governor, those are the excuses of the weak, the cowards and the lazy ones, of those who have no conscience, no love for the fatherland, no revolutionary consciousness."

"Here, the Sí lost, you let the Sí lose, Miranda owes me one, people of Miranda and Caracas you owe me a debt, I have it written down in my planner, let's see if you pay your debt to me or if you don't."

"If the people get scared, are confused, forget it then, if the people allow themselves to be blackmailed, if the people let themselves be scammed, if we, the revolutionary leaders, lose sight of our goal and are not able to tame this colt that is the revolution, then all will be lost, write it down, I will be reminding you of this every day. I don't matter at all, what matters is the Venezuelan fatherland, the future of our children, the fatherland of our grandchildren."

"I have been warning you, we are confronting the United States empire, and if we get careless and don't do our job and let ourselves be confused, well, December 2nd is a sign of what will happen."

He affirmed that "our enemy, the empire, does not forgive" and he mentioned that if an option different from his were to win, there would be no community banks, "and what would await the people would be misery for a hundred years more, persecution, violence, racism and abuse."