Sunday 9 March 2014

The Procrastinator (some) Times Sunday 9th of March Edition


In this editorial I want to share with you how hard is keep covering an ongoing crisis. I know. It's logical, but I have never tried to do it before. I manage to keep following Venezuela mainly because is my country and I understand what is happening. With Ukraine, it's a lot harder. I'll keep posting the links that I find more interesting and explicative. Hope someone finds it useful. And I also hope this Cold War finishes soon, this time for good. (Have a look at Jean Jullien's Cold War II illustration).

In our Culture & Entertainment section we have cool articles from some of our favorite writes from The Atlantic and The New Yorker, about selfies in Crimea and HBO's True Detective. In Photoautomat, the second post about war photographer Tim Hetherington. In Science, news about the orgasm machine, of course. In Design & Business an RSA article about the Power of Create. And finally In Dog We Trust introduce us to the lovely Fred the pug.

Happy Sunday and happy reading.

PS: Sorry for the broken links early today, it's all been fixed now.


Photo via Quartz.

The Venezuelan situation keeps unfolding towards I don't know exactly where. The government won't stop insulting and repressing the opposition, and reinforcing fallacies that then people and international media keep replicating. The economic war; there is no other economic war than the one they are leading against their own country (watch Rafael Ramírez admit not to have had a plan for oil income, ever).

Nor Panamá neither Jared Leto words are prove that the US is leading a slow coup d'etat. If the US was the enemy I guess that as energetically as we broke diplomatic links with Panamá we would have stop selling them oil. But we haven't, and we won't. They don't have proves, they never show any prove to back up their statements.

The opposition is not a small group, and the great majority are not rich, posh, right-wing people; right now a university professor in Venezuela earns around US$ 180,00/month according to the black market rate (the one that sets the prices of every consumer good). That's Venezuelan "middle class". The use of black and white terms is a great way to fill with simplifications, prejudgements and distortions, a very complex situation, and they know it. They sell themselves, as a socialist-left-wing-Robin-Hood utopia, when all they are is just good old (and dramatically inefficient) Latin American populist government with a strong like for totalitarianism and an insane personality cult. Absolutely corrupted by their absolute power.

People often talk about about how the rate of extreme poverty decrease in Venezuela, but actually they only managed to take some people out of extreme poverty by giving them some spare money coming from our oil incomes. Not opportunities or education. Just cheap, bad quality, houses, washing machines and TVs, propaganda and slogans. The greatest gift from the government to "the people" is dependence. They strangled the economy, make private industries go bankrupt by not letting them change dollars, so more people keep depending on the government, and their "generosity". A couple of weeks ago the Minister of Education said that it was not in the interest of the government to take people out of poverty to make them become opposition.

I believe in socialism, Norwegian style. I subscribe the words of that Colombian major who said that a prosperous country was not one where "the poor have cars, but where the rich use public transportation". Public services for all, food for all, medicines for all, and respect. Respect for our lives, our opinions and our dreams. That is all we ask for. Being the country with the biggest reserves of oil of the world shouldn't be our curse, should be our blessing! We could be so great!

But we are not. And that is a fact. Philip K. Dick has a great phrase about reality, he says that "reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” And you can have the ideology you prefer, the world is big enough, I don't mind, but the reality is that in Venezuela there is no food, no medicines, no freedom, no peace, no happy socialism. In Venezuela there is death, there is fear, there is armed paramilitary, there is violence of all sorts, and there is torture (even if the Human Rights Ombudswoman wants to twist the universal definition). And whether you stop believing or not, is not going away.

That is why one of the most relevant news from this week is not necessarily about the ongoing protests, but about one of our major crisis: being one of the most dangerous country on earth. Roberto Ferdman in Quartz writes: There have already been almost 3000 murders in Venezuela since the start of the year. "In the first two months of 2014 (link in Spanish) 2,841 people were murdered, a more than 10% jump from the same period last year, when 2,576 murders were registered. Homicides have grown almost systematically of late in Venezuela. Last year nearly 25,000 people were murdered, or almost 70 people per day. Murders are up 89% since 2010, and almost 500% since 1997, before Hugo Chavez became president (in 1999)."

Only 9% of the crimes in Venezuela are prosecuted and punished. But in the past month there has been around a 1300 students arrested. There is an image going around in social media that says that if we make a minute of silence for every Venezuelan killed last year we would have to be silent for 17 days.

This is not ideology. These are facts and they don't go away.

Other articles:

New York Times: Fear spreads that Venezuela is approaching bloody face-off. (Added 13 March)

The Washington Post: Student that lives with parents rises as leader in Venezuela's protests. (Added 13 March)

VICE NEWS: Venezuela Rising. Dispatch 6. (Added 12 March)

New York Times (cartoon): Protests in Venezuela. (Added 12 March)

BBC: Three die in clashes in central Venezuela, while rival protests take place in Caracas to mark 1 month of unrest. (Added 12 March)

The Economist: A test of political maturity. Excellent article that summarizes Venezuela's current situation and the test it poses to the region. (Added 10 March)

VICE NEWS: Venezuela Rising. Dispatch 5. (Added 10 March)

AFP: Venezuelans queue long hours at markets to buy "whatever they have".

BBC: Venezuela opposition holds anti-Maduro rally in Caracas.

Business Insider: Here's What Outsiders Get Completely Wrong About The Crisis In Venezuela.

Time: 3 Reasons Venezuelans protesters won't win

Mashable: Venezuela's March 8th Demonstrations.

Hootsuite: Who to follow on Twitter for crisis news.

En español:

El País: El régimen venezolano esctrecha el cerco sobre Internet. (Agregado 14 de marzo).

EL País: Los intelectuales y el principio de realidad. (Agregado 10 Marzo)

Radar de los barrios: ¿Protesta en los barrios? ¡Claro que sí!. (Agregado 10 Marzo)

El Nacional: El costo de la protesta popular. "Si protestan, los matamos."  (Agregado 10 Marzo)

El Universal: Salverio Vivas: La oposición del barrio es más madura que la del este.

El País: La principal ciudad de los Andes venezolanos se rebela contra Maduro.

En français:

Le Nouvel Observateur / AFP: Nouvelle manifestation mercredi à Caracas pour marquer un mois de mobilisation. (Added 12 March)


YouTube: Armed "colectivos" shooting inside a building 7M in Los Ruices. (Added 10M)

YouTube: Young man kidnapped by the Sebin (political police) in Caracas I. (Added 10M)

YouTube: Young man kidnapped by the Sebin (political police) in Caracas II. (Added 10M)

Past posts about Venezuela's crisis in the blog: 16th of February and 23rd of February and 2nd of March.

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