Thursday, February 05, 2004


Yesterday Raven and I were going to check out the solidarity march to celebrate 12 years since President Hugo Chavez' failed coup of February 4, 1992--an attempt which led to his spending 2 years in the slammer and being elected President in 1998. I am afraid we were not as intrepid as the thousands of folks that marched 8 kilometers and spent much of the afternoon and evening being rained on.

Did you notice, Rave, that in the opposition's march most of the folks had umbrellas?

"Yeah. And there were very few in the chavistas' march. Maybe umbrellas are a bourgeois symbol here?"

Maybe. I am sure glad I have one, though. I would have been soaked without it.

"Well, I have nothing to do with that. My feathers see me through just fine."

Raven and I were watching the end of the march on tv, listening to Chavez' very emotional recounting of the 1992 attempt to change the trajectory of Venezuela--a country with one of the most venal oligarchies in Latin America, divided by race and class and intensely dependent on imported food and goods to satisfy basic needs. Toward the end of his speech, Chavez talked about reclaiming more land in the areas surrounding Caracas to plant yucca and other basic food products.

"I don't like yucca", Raven indicates. "It doesn't have any flavor."

I have to admit that I don't care for it either. But it's a traditional element of the diet here in the Caribbean Basin. And the point is not the taste, it's to have a self-sustaining agriculture.

"My species inclines to hunting and gathering, not planting. Speaking of gathering, what do we have for snacks?"

Some kind of cream puffs. And peach yogurt.

"I'll pass on the yogurt. Break out the puffs."

Raven beaks into one of the puffs. Ravenously, you might say. I am giving him the eye.

"What's the problem? We're watching tv. Watching tv without eating is like--oh, I don't know...."

This isn't exactly "The Simpsons". Or "El Chavo del Ocho".

"I know that. Eating is a learned response to watching tv. Probably why most of the people in the US are so grossly overweight."

Shut up and listen, will you? We're watching a country's people grab hold of their future. Those moldy oldies in the opposition march with their candles and black dresses and wreaths of flowers, they're all about the past--when their privileges were all that mattered here.

"And umbrellas." Raven crams the last of the cream puff into his beak. "Don't forget about their umbrellas. Who said, 'After me, the deluge'?"

One of the Louis--15th or 16th. That was a question in questionable taste, guy. Under the circumstances of a nation's people recovering their birthright, anyway.

"Sorry. Speaking of taste...."

Have another cream puff.

"Hmmm. Sounds a little like 'Let them eat cake', don't you think?

Maybe you'd rather watch "Grounded for Life"?

"I'm ignoring all threats--with veils or umbrellas. Turn up the volume, will you? This guy is dynamite."

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Raven and I had a singularly bad theater experience Sunday night at the Caracas Atheneum.

"You know, when you had that attack of diarrhea at the intermission, we could have voted with our feet. With your feet, anyway."

And with your wings, guy. It's that I couldn't believe what an insane production it was, as if they had deliberately decided to shoehorn all the exaggeration, hysteria and lynch mob mentality of the Venezuelan society into Büchner's "Danton's Death". And they tarted it up into the bargain.

"The tarts were the only good part, I thought--though smearing rouge on their nipples was abit much."

Rave, it's not a play about prostitutes. It's about the Reign of Terror, about Robespierre leading the Jacobins--and France--down the path to disaster. A path strewn with severed heads. And acting "holier than thou" while he did it. Instead of creating a republic, he created state-imposed terror and civil chaos.

"Are you sure we weren't watching a play by Orwell?"

I see your point. Napoleon was right around the corner waiting to cross out "All animals are equal", and substitute "Some animals are more equal than others".

"So much for liberty, equality and brotherhood. More like Robespierre as Big Brother. And maybe Danton had to die because he, too, had blood on his hands?"

Not too many revolutions are bloodless, guy. Although here in Venezuela, maybe. Though the counterrevolution here has not been bloodless. By staging this play in Caracas, though, I believe the US-backed opposition is trying to make Chavez into either Danton or Robespierre.

"He doesn't strike me as being either. But I guess if I had to choose I would make him Danton. More than anything else because he tried a military coup 11 years ago."

Eleven years ago tomorrow, in fact. It's nothing new that the opposition is calling for magnicide, so if Chavez is Danton, who is Roberspierre?

"He's not here. He's in the Oval Office. Probably drooling on his desk. As a born-again believer he thinks God's on his side when he sets heads rolling around the globe."

Too bad his own head isn't still unconscious on a tavern floor in Texas.

"Oh, he's still unconscious, all right. He's making decisions based on the primitive unconscious archetypes your species has about Good and Evil. That's why I believe he is Robespierre."

Only his Reign of Terror is on a much bigger scale. He's not just terrorizing US citizens; he's exported terror to other countries: Iraq, Afghanistan and whatever other country he can find on a map.

"In that case the only good thing is that he probably can't read a map. But he's also fueling terror in Israel, Colombia and Paraguay. In Paraguay, at least, a front is organizing to resist the militarization of the Triple Border--to keep the world's biggest aquifer out of US control."

If they don't resist, the next step, as we know, will be grabbing hold of the Amazon and the Orinoco. And in this case these guys started heads rolling without even a revolution--just a palace coup after the last presidential election.

"So, instead of 'The revolution devours its children--like Saturn' like in the Büchner play, it's 'The government destroys the citizens'."

And citizens of other countries, too.

"By the way, didn't you say you're on your Saturn line here?"

I'm definitely feeling gnawed on by the hysterical atmosphere here, Rave.

"I've been meaning to mention that we've only been here a week, and already your clothes are too big...."