December 5, 2003

This blog... about to go more or less quiet, since I'm off to Romania for the holidays starting today. I may post from net caf�s now and then, but obviously not as often as I'm doing now.

It's really been a historic week in Venezuela, and even though I'm far away now, it has been a lot of fun to chronicle it blow-by-blow. Do keep writing in, though, even if you don't hear back from me right away (which you won't.) I especially enjoy reading emails from people who have a coherent argument against something I have written - from any direction. (Philochavistas with integrity are my favorite correspondents.) Your feedback has been enormously stimulating over the last week. I think the possibility to exchange views is really one of the best things about a blog as a medium. So thank you for writing in, it has made this intense bit of blogging that much more interesting.

Also, please write in if you notice any factual mistakes. One of the joys (and challenges) of blogging is that you don't have an editor, but this does mean that mistakes are far more likely on a blog than if you read a newspaper (caveat lector.) I want to thank everyone who wrote in to point out mistakes. They are acknowledged when appropriate, and I do make an attempt to correct factual errors.

So I will read all mail when I get back, and respond to a selection. Please tell me explicitly if you want me to keep your correspondence private, or if you want your name and/or email address omitted. Unless you request otherwise, I will assume that anything sent to the CaracasChronicles fastmail address is meant for public consumption. Similarly, I will assume things sent to my personal address are not for publication.

I do intend to write a long (probably excruciatingly long) and detailed post about what actually happened on April 11-14, 2002, sometime in January. Many questions about the coup and The revolution will not be televised will be better addressed then. I want to read Sandra La Fuente and Alfredo Meza's highly lauded book on the subject before putting my foot in my mouth here. I don't know Alfredo, but I do know Sandra, and I'm thrilled she took on the project. Los que leen castellano really should get it. El Acertijo de Abril is the title - the first edition is, encouragingly, sold out, but we are promised an even better second edition early next year. The book, as far as I'm aware, is the most comprehensive and professional effort yet to document and describe exactly what the hell happened during the bizarre days of April 2002.

[And no, the plug is not only because Sandra is a member of the same pro-media balance NGO I am a member of, Los del Medio, which if anything is only to her credit. Sandra is a journalist of scrupulous fairness: exactly the kind of reporter you would want investigating a reality as complex and thorny as the coup.]

(Romania? Vacation? In December?!? Long story...don't ask...)

So if I have any readers in Transylvania, please, please, please get in touch and buy me a beer! Otherwise, heavy-blogging will resume in January when the signature tallies are announced.

Happy holidays to everyone,

If you are a first time reader, I recommend you actually scroll to the bottom of this page and read the entries from bottom to top, in the chronological order they were written. It will take a while (I tend to write a little too much, as you will soon find out) but I think it's worth it. This is a blog for people who like to read, and read, and read, produced by someone who likes to write, and write, and write. Especially if you know relatively little about Venezuela, it will make a lot more sense to read it in chronological order. Also, if you really need a (somewhat polemical) primer before delving into the minutiae of the fascinating saga in Caracas over the week of Nov 28-Dec 5th, I really recommend you spend some time reading the long but hopefully entertaining essay on the evolution of the Petrostate, from the 60s through Chavez. I wrote it because it seems to me one basic reason people don't understand Venezuela's complex reality is that they just don't know enough about the back story, the dynamics that brought the country to do something as dramatic as vote in Hugo Chavez with successive 60% majorities. The essay is my attempt to answer that question, in a way I hope isn't too too boring. To my mind, it's essential background: the rest of the story is unlikely to make much sense until you're a little bit immersed into the peculiarities of Venezuelan polititical culture. I mean, think about it: could you explain George W. Bush and his significance to US politics to someone without any understanding of the history of christian conservatism in the US? Could you make heads or tails of the middle east conflict without understanding the difference between an arab and an israeli?