Friday, May 16, 2003


This morning Raven and I sent a letter to Colin Powell of the U. S. State Department, asking for the removal of Charles Shapiro as Ambassador to Venezuela, as well as a quick trip to the woodshed for a blast of traditional discipline for the same individual.

Venezuela is calling for an official apology on the part of the US government for Shapiro’s actions—which consisted essentially of hosting an event in his residence on Tuesday—ostensibly to call for free speech—in which he promoted a comedian’s ridiculing of President Hugo Chávez Frías (aka The Leo of My Dreams) by means of a puppet.

“There’s probably more free speech in Venezuela than in any other country in the world”, opines Raven, as he crunches a potato chip. “An excess of free speech, maybe. Anybody can say whatever he wants there and nobody does anything.”

Theoretically, Rave, democracies are like that. Unlike fascist countries like the US, where the FBI rummages through e-mails and taps phones and searches the houses of citizens without a warrant.

“Great country you’ve got there.” I can barely hear the bird for the crunching.

Rave, didn’t your mother ever teach you table manners?

“Ha! Our mother didn’t forage for potato chips for us when we were wee ones. We barged out of the eggshell and started downing earthworms.”

Let’s get back to the puppet incident, okay. Try to keep the crunching down to a dull roar?

“Whatever”, Rave clacks his beak. “Puppets are the key to this entire incident of boorishness, racism, arrogance, misbehavior and (in the words of the embassy’s official statement) bad taste. They trotted out a puppet of Chávez and made fun of it because Chávez refuses to be a puppet for the Bush Gang.”

More to the point, Rave, he has pretty much drawn a line in the sand in regard to them. A resounding NO to the free trade—aka imposition of US goods—agreement from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Tierra del Fuego. YES to Opec countries receiving decent prices for their non-renewable hydrocarbons. NO to being a colony, in short.

“Ah, colonies. Consumers of these greasy chips. Swillers of Coca-Cola.” Raven looks guilty.

Yeah. Inhabitants of the Heart of Darkness. Shrunken heads. Poachers. Ivory. Kurtz. The horror.

“More than that, in Latin America they are all characters out of Nostromo. Conrad had this all novelistically charted a hundred years ago. I guess nobody paid attention because they thought it was fiction?”

Sadly, Rave, we Sagittarians are always ahead of our time….

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