Venezuela: Power Cuts, Elections and Shopping SpreesDecember 5, 2013 | Print |
HAVANA TIMES — As the Venezuelan government recently “realized” that product prices at many stores are sky-high and announced a battle against speculators – targeting those who sell electrical appliances, “brand” clothing and shoes and cars but leaving stores that sell food, medications and other products used on a daily basis in peace – a mysterious power cut left half of Caracas and a number of States across the country in darkness for a half hour.
As was to be expected, the government immediately accused “certain sectors” of the opposition. The opposition, in turn, insists the government is the only one capable of producing such a power cut, and that it did so to lay the blame on them and inflame the passions of government supporters, making them remember the coup d’état staged on April 11, 2002.
Several times a month, Nicolas Maduro’s government reminds Venezuelans that economic warfare is the first step towards a potential coup. All the while, the president continues to make his listeners laugh (on purpose, some claim) with his repeated linguistic follies and his constant claims of a conspiracy against him.
For the most part, people continue to do what they’ve always done the last two months of the year: become an aggressive and mindless mass that goes in and out of stores to spend its New Year’s bonuses. This time, they are also spurred by the supposed discounts imposed by the government on certain stores, as I mentioned above.
The streets are filled with flyers and posters showing the faces of actors asking to be elected at the municipal elections to be held this coming 8th of December. Yes, they’re supposedly politicians, but, this time around, each camp (if we can even speak of camps, for they all increasingly resemble one another) has made an effort to present their candidates through portraits that recall the stills of Hollywood actors.
In some cases within the governing Venezuelan Socialist Party (PSUV), the candidates do not pretend to be actors, they actually are actors.
People’s ability not to think, to be led by first impressions and the first thing they hear, is being taken advantage of more and more. Their votes are bought, not only with promises, but also through an extension of their credit, brand-new merchandise, discounts on alcoholic beverages and some free concerts (aimed at those who are not the “consumer types”). Ultimately, I don’t think most people have acted in such a way as to deserve any other treatment.
I also know of a young woman who was denied a job at government institutions and companies on several occasions, for the sole reason that, at the presidential referendum in 2004, she voted against having Chavez remain in office.
I also know another woman who works at a government institution, whose job is to gradually get rid of people there who did not vote for the current administration. The “Tascon List”, as it is called, continues to haunt public ministries and institutions.
I wonder: will the names of those who do not vote for Chavista candidates in Sunday’s elections also be included on a list.