February 28, 2008

Leashing the unhinged can be hard work

Katy says: Yesterday, celebrity terrorist and chavista fanatic Lina Ron forced her way into the offices of the Archbishop of Caracas.

There, she demanded that the government cease harrassing chavista subversive groups in the "23 de Enero" projects. She also announced that Globovisión was "a target of the Revolution" - in case you didn't know - and promtply declared that the late Héctor Serrano, a government spy who blew himself up last Sunday as he was innocently setting up a bomb outside the main building of business umbrella-group Fedecámaras, was "a martyr of the Revolution."

I was not surprised by Ms. Ron's latest travails into the public arena. The grande-dame of chavista nomenklatur is so unbalanced, I would have to see her applying for US citizenship or auditioning for Venezuelan Extreme Makeover to be surprised.

The crazyness ensued when Chávez himself phoned his pet TV show "La Hojilla" and promptly denounced Ms. Ron for displaying "revolutionary indiscipline," as if "indiscipline" was a noun in need of a revolutionary adjective. (If all revolutionary things are good, shouldn't "revolutionary indiscipline" be a good thing?)

Chávez also scolded former PSUV congressman Luis Tascón, of Tascón List fame, for denouncing corruption schemes without any evidence of malfeasance. And to top it all off, he publicly berated Bolivarian Circles camped outside opposition TV station Globovisión as being "anarchic" groups that do not respond to anyone, leaving out the fact that he created them in the first place.

Ms. Ron, Mr. Tascón and the Bolivarian Circles are all part of Chávez's inner circle. They have, until now, enjoyed the trust of the President and, more importantly, served as his first line of attack in harrassing everyone from the church to political parties to students. His attempts to put distance himself from them are laughable, and Chávez knows it.

We are used to Chavez's Orwellian-talk being directed at our side, the opposition. But now, in an interesting twist, Chávez appears to be directing the crazy at some of his most loyal followers. He seems to be trying to convince the public that he is reining in his loonies. If only they would obey.

This is a dangerous game, one the public is not going to buy easily. The rift between the moderates (led by Miranda Governor Diosdado Cabello) and the extremists (Ron, Tascón and the Bolivarian circles) in the government seems severe and its consequences unpredictable. Insulting the ladies of Altamira may get you some pots banged in Eastern Caracas, but insulting the Tupamaros or the Franken-bride of the Revolution may well get you shot. This is not the position you want your party to be in when the election you have once again labelled as "crucial" is only a few months away.

But then again, it's all possible in Chávez's Venezuela. The President lamely trying to play the wolf in sheep's clothing is not new, but his belief that it's going to work this time is simply nuts.