Two pianists fall out over Venezuela

Clara Rodriguez, professor at the Royal College of Music in London, has been wounded in political debate with Gabriela Montero. Here’s Clara’s response:
clara rodriguez
There is, in my opinion a dangerous situation among Venezuelans at this time in which some feel entitled to think for others and judge negatively if they feel you differ from their point of view.
In the last 48 hours , I have been the victim of an attack by my colleague, pianist Gabriela Montero through her Twitter and Facebook accounts for a tweet  I did on my own in which I quoted an article which appeared in the Guardian in March 2014.
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Concerned with the situation in my country, seeking information where it appears and trying to draw my own conclusions as sometimes contradictory opinions are emitted by the press and private social networks. The tweet, simply said that “many of the recent protests in Venezuela would not be tolerated by any democratic government in the world.”
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I know from experience that in the UK , where I have lived for 30 years, shredding a public space, removing manholes from avenues, putting barbed-wire across streets to kill motorbikers – apparently a “Chavista” symbol-, cutting trees by the hundreds to build barricades and stopping the traffic, especially free access for ambulances is not something that can be done without immediately getting a response from government forces to prevent it.
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London was hit by a popular protest in Tottenham between 6 and August 11 2011, a revolt in which young men, enraged by the death of a neighbour at the hands of the police, set fire to establishments, set up barricades and burned cars. By the 15th of August there were a total of 3,100 boys arrested, of whom 1.000 were charged with crimes against persons and property of others .
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There were a total of five people dead, none of them law enforcement officers . I honestly do not think that a Venezuelan style “guarimba” would be tolerated in this democratic country, I am in my right to say it and should not be discredited for it. I believe that opinions can be emitted in a respectful way.
gabrielamontero
Unfortunately Gabriela is not interested. She could have tried to communicate with me in private, and heard my opinion, as I would hers; I guess we would have differences but also similarities in many points. Instead, she thought it appropriate to use the artistic platform to encourage hatred, division and bigotry, to act as a sort of policeman of public morals, harassing and accusing me of saying something “incomprehensible ” and ‘ unforgivable ‘ . She says that she has ‘ unmasked ‘ me, I have never worn masks (except in carnaval parties) or worked with a political party, I do not receive money from anyone or any institution that isn’t music related for my teaching or concerts.
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I have been insulted by her fanaticals (the term had never had such true ring to it), my CDs are being apparently burned and some more such deplorable actions without Gabriela trying to dampen the violent reactions. I have not studied economics or politics , but I need not have done that to be convinced that Venezuela will not get out of this awful crisis without dialogue and an attempt to at least understand the arguments and aspirations of those who disagree about the different situations of the present. A way to stop violence and its terrifying consequences is to try to see the “other” point of view, it’s a coin with two sides and one sole wish: PEACE for all .
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To me the right to protest is sacred, but we must ask whether “guarimbas” render the results that we are all looking for which is a society of free thinkers working together to live together in harmony in true democratic spirit. Political fanaticism is dark , from any the side. Above all there is something that Venezuelans can not stop fighting for and it is the autonomy of reasoning. I invite the talented Gabriela Montero to a respectful exchange of views and information with the idea to opening spaces, especially the musical ones, our true vocation, the most noble of them.
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Clara Rodriguez, London, April 1, 2014

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  • Prof. Rodriguez- you are to be commended for your articulate and courageous statement about what is happening in your country, especially where you yourself are facing retribution by those who oppose the Government and differ with your viewpoint.

    There are many more in your country who agree with you than not even though those who espouse the violence are making more noise and getting the media coverage.

    See also:

    1) http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/18/whats-really-happening-in-venezuela/ by Chris Gilbert Prof of Political Science at the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela.

    2) http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/12/venezuela-is-not-occupy/ by Roger D. Harris president of the Task Force on the Americas a 29-year-old human rights organization that works in solidarity with the social justice movements of Latin America.

    3) http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/14/behind-the-lies-about-venezuelas-protests/

    by Gary Leech, an independent journalist and author of numerous books including Beyond Bogota: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia (Beacon Press, 2009); and Crude Interventions: The United States Oil and the New World Disorder (Zed Books, 2006). ). He is also a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Cape Breton University in Canada.

    4) http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/05/the-class-conflict-in-the-venezuela/

    Mark Weisbrot is an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: the Phony Crisis. This essay originally ran in the Guardian.

    5) http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/17/venezuela-under-attack-again/ Economic Sabotage – Venezuela Under Attack Again by sociologist MARIA PAEZ VICTOR

  • I’m not the least surprised by Gabriela Montero’s dictatorial, verbally violent and undemocratic behavior. Bravo to Prof. Rodriguez, calling for dialog and for her non-violent and completely reasonable approach to finding a peaceful solution.

  • Easy to imagine how such passions can combust amongst musical types. I once got savaged online for daring to suggest on YouTube that Martha Argerich’s playing is not as great as many people think. Maybe I was wrong, but people need to disagree in a civilized manner for God’s sake. In fact the whole measure of hope for the world is that people can ‘agree to disagree’. Evil is in the hostility of disagreement, often more so than the right or wrong of each person’s actual standpoint. Every dispute such as these two venerable pianists are having is a yet another war in microcosm, or would be if Rodriguez rose to it, it seems.

  • Clara Rodriguez se hace de nuevo la víctima, ahora mundialmente, a consta de la reputación de Gabriela Montero. Miente descaradamente cuando dice que se trata de su opinión, cuando sabemos que es una declarada chavista, defensora de los que hoy han invadido nuestra querida UCV para agredir a quienes no piensan como ellos. Creo que la gente con un mínimo de moral debe poner cara en contra de la difamación mundial que está buscando esta pianista contra nuestra máxima representante del arte pianístico venezolano en el mundo, Gabriela Montero. Recuerden, por ejemplo que mientras Venezuela está pasando una de sus peores crisis económicas, a Clara Rodriguez le dieron un montón de dinero de nuestros impuestos municipales para comprar un piano sólo porque es una pianista chavista, ya que de haber estado el Gobierno interesado por un especialista para adquirir un instrumento musical, habría debido ser llamado nuestro prestigioso lutier venezolano Leonardo Pizzolante. Y así va todo en Venezuela, se pide como principal mérito primero ser chavista, y luego tapan el acto de corrupción con alguien que se deja comprar fácilmente por el actual Estado. No dejemos que Clara Rodríguez desprestigie nuestros verdaderos valores culturales en el mundo. Haz que tu voz cuente para defendernos de este tipo de personajillo que busca desacreditarnos mundialmente. Imperdonable!

  • Dear Slipped Disc readers,

    This statement is an outrageous dramatization by Clara Rodriguez. I have never encouraged hatred, bigotry or division. Nor is my outrage at the collapse of my nation any sort of fanaticism. It is just outrage.

    The exchange began when, on Facebook, I responded to Clara’s decision to tweet a quotation – which she claims to be from The Guardian, though I can not find it, but let’s presume that it is – that “many of the recent protests in Venezuela would not be tolerated by any democratic government in the world.” This is my original Facebook message:

    — “This tweet by Venezuelan pianist Clara Rodriguez is incomprehensible, unacceptable and unforgivable. In this very critical moment, when we need more support than ever to rid ourselves of this nefarious dictatorship, this type of propaganda in its defense only helps to feed the lies and falsehoods in international public opinion. I ask you, Clara, is that what you call tolerance? Who is tolerating the protest? Because, as far as I know, the government is murdering its citizens. That is not tolerance. You should change it [your tweet] to “In democratic countries, governments respect the right to protest without killing and torturing its people.”” —

    My later comment about masks was a general one: “We have to attack lies with facts. Masks are falling off.” The entire thread can be viewed on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/monterogabriela

    Clara is not a “victim”, nor has she been “attacked”. She chose to re-publish and perpetuate an opinion in the public domain, condemning the modus operandi of the student protesters, as is her right, and I chose to respond, as is mine. This is the nature of public debate. There was nothing private about her tweet that merited a private response. In doing so I strenuously objected to the premise of the statement, and I continue to strenuously object to it.

    I would like to explain WHY I condemn not only the initial quotation, but Clara’s perpetuation of its inherent deceptions. Rather than focussing on their modus operandi and the details of barricade construction, I would like to inform readers as to WHY the students are risking their lives to protest in the first place. I would like to situate the protests within their social and economic context. I would like to discuss the conditions the Venezuelan people are being asked to tolerate on a daily basis, conditions which have brought thousands onto the streets for the last six weeks, instead of hypothesizing about what the governments of truly democratic nations may or may not tolerate in the event that they were to drive their citizens to do the same.

    – Venezuelans are protesting 25,000 murders per year, or the equivalent of 50,000 per year in a country with a population similar to that of the UK. Would the UK – which witnessed just 550 murders last year – tolerate this obscene reality, or any other democratic nation?

    – They are protesting the horrific reality that more Venezuelan citizens – 65,000 – have been murdered in the last three years than the total death toll of US soldiers in the entire Vietnam war. In what true democracy can we find statistics even remotely resembling these? Where on this earth would this be tolerated? At what point will supporters of this government admit that this is a humanitarian crisis?

    – They are protesting a 600% increase in the murder rate since Chavez took power.

    – They are protesting a government which ranks 160/175 on Transparency International’s Corruption Index, behind Iran, Burundi, Angola, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Congo. In what truly democratic nation would such extremes of corruption be tolerated?

    – They are protesting the collapse of their economy and currency, with inflation currently at 57.3 percent. Which democratic nation would NOT loudly call their government to account in such conditions?

    – They are protesting the 93% impunity rate, or the intolerable fact that only 7% of murders go unpunished. Which democratic nation would tolerate such a catastrophic collapse of law and order?

    – They are protesting the fall of Caracas into barbarism, as the world’s most deadly CAPITAL city today. Which truly democratic nation would tolerate its police and military personnel trading arms with kidnap gangs, so they can then rob, extort and kill at random and with almost total impunity?

    – They are protesting the total control of all mainstream media outlets by the state. In which truly democratic nation does the state control all mainstream television and print media?

    – And they are protesting the infrastructural collapse of a nation which happens to be custodian of the world’s largest oil reserves. Which functional, democratic nation would acquiesce while its government oversaw the steady squandering of such vital resources? Which nation would tolerate a decline of 35% in oil production over 20 years due to pure incompetence, and the gifting of 40% of that reduced productivity to fellow ideologues like the Cubans?

    Venezuela is in a social and economic free-fall. I will continue to fight for my country, and for the rights and dignity of ALL Venezuelans, from all socio-economic backgrounds and all ethnicities. I will continue to challenge every comment I read in the public domain which supports a government that has brought about the appalling conditions as outlined above, against which these brave protesters are fighting, and for which many have lost their lives to the bullets of the government-armed “colectivos”. I do not care who publishes it or where it is published.

    So, if Clara doesn’t like the public fight, she should stay out of the public ring. But if she sends out a message opposing the protesters in the public domain, whether a quotation or her own words, she can expect a passionate response in this desperate and heated climate. Enough of the “victim” nonsense. The victims here are the 200,000 Venezuelans who have lost their lives in the past 15 years in a broken society. The victims are the young men and women who have died in recent weeks while protesting for a better country. The victims are those who have been detained and tortured by the National Guard. The victim is a moribund Venezuela. Since 2011 I have been fighting for all of these victims, not as a political fanatic but as a human being who can not bare to stand by while so many suffer. This is not about me. This is not about Clara. This is about saving a nation in crisis.

    Sincerely,

    Gabriela Montero

  • Ms. Rodriguez, with all due respect, you should do a check and balance of the situation in Venezuela and analyze it objectively, as a Venezuelan woman who feels for her country. I can understand that you are hired by “El Sistema”, a remarkable program founded in 1975 (24 years before Chavez became president) and funded by the Venezuelan government at a cost of approximately $150,000/yr.

    After reading your postings, twits, etc. I can honestly say that your lack of objectivity towards the crisis our country is living is based more on a contractual rather than on a moral perspective. You are correct to believe that Venezuela is a democracy because its leader was constitutionally voted in (with fraud), even though Chavez made sure all powers of government (including the Electoral Branch) fell under one umbrella; A RED ONE following the directives of the PSUV political party. In the last 15 years what started out as a “participatory democracy” has degenerated from a democratic government into a tyrannical dictatorship. Venezuela is used to being a democracy, but astronomical corruption by part of the government elite and the millions of dollars spent in international lobbying, among other things, has left Venezuela on the verge of economic, political, social and moral collapse.

    Why are the students out on the streets?

    1. Closing or buying out opposition media channels to silence dissidents

    2. Uncalled-for food scarcity in one of the richest countries per capita in the world

    3. Energy blackouts in a country with the largest energy reserves in the world

    4. A collapsed social medicine infrastructure where hospitals are sub equipped

    5. A homicide rate higher than that of some wars around the world (e.g. in 2013 there were over 24,000 homicides)

    6. Sky high unemployment and inflation like never seen before in the history of most countries around the world.

    7. Practically giving the country away to a foreign government – CUBA – manpower (that we already had) for oil and to inject into the Venezuelan armed forces.

    8. Lack of opportunities for young people to develop their careers, specially in the private sector.

    AND THE LIST GOES ON…

    Therefore Ms. Rodriguez, you may want to block the sun with a finger, but what you can’t deny is the fact that Venezuela is rapidly becoming a tyrannical dictatorship, as witnessed in the last 2 months of struggle.

    WHO IS USING ARMY WARFARE TACTICS (tear gas, tanks, arbitrary arrests, torture, assassinations, etc.) AGAINST AN UNARMED SECTOR OF THE POPULATION THAT HAS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO PEACEFULLY, BUT FIRMLY PROTEST?

    Ms. Rodriguez, you are not the victim here, the victims are those that have fallen, been tortured, those that are missing or paying for unlawful incarceration. You and I grew up in a Venezuela that may have not been perfect, but it sure was delightful to be able mix and mingle, it was a fraternal country.

    Place your hand on your heart and ask yourself: “If I wasn’t working for the Venezuelan government would I condemn it for massacring my Venezuelan brothers and sisters? Keep in mind that some of the world’s most brutal dictators were elected into office: Hitler, Mussolini, Mugabe, etc.

    I wish you well!

    From: a regular Venezuelan.

  • Why did you publish this horrible article against the best Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero? Who is Clara Rodríguez? Is she a good pianist? Why is she attacking Gabriela Montero? Are you using her to talk badly about Gabriela Montero? As a Venezuelan musicologist (Ph.D at Florida State University/Universidad Complutense de Madrid) I do really appreciate, NORMAN LEBRECHT, if you do not use this unknown pianist against our best Venezuelan pianist. We, Venezuelans, do not need, right now, this kind of bad publicity. Please feel free to write to me if you would like to know about our real important musicians around the World. Many people from Venezuela will thank you!

  • I just checked the blogs for Ms. Montero and Ms. Rodrigues and frankly I don’t see anyone being under “attack” as the latter expresses in her article. This kind of exchange is precisely what a democracy is all about: an interaction of points of views and ideas.

    Clara did say that “the opposition protests happening in Venezuela would NOT be tolerated in any democratic country in the world,” which is very far from the truth! The protests taking place right now all across Venezuela are absolutely peaceful — but are being brutally and systematically repressed by the Maduro government. I would respectfully request for you Mr. Lebrecht and your fine audience to check the facts by simply visiting Twitter and search the hashtag #SOSVenezuela (link provided at then end of my note here), where you will find thousands and thousands of photographs and videos of the Venezuelan youth, women, senior citizens, children and even babies being barbarously attacked by Government forces and paid local and cuban-invading militias. I warn everyone here that you will be exposed to extremely graphic content and in for a shock.

    I believe that Ms. Rodrigues should open her heart to the thousands of fellow Venezuelans getting murdered, kidnapped and raped, tortured and humilliated by these heavily armed groups. I also beg Ms. Clara Rodrigues and others to try to understand the reasons for the protests in our home country in the first place: lack of basic needs (like Toilet paper, medicines, bread, milk, you name it, etc.), total state of government corruption, the alarming rate of homicides (25,000 murders last year alone), the total media blackout imposed by the state, highest inflation rate in the globe — and many, many more reasons. All that taking place as we speak, in an extremely rich oil producing country blessed (or maybe cursed?) with the biggest oil reserves on the planet.

    Just to finish my comment, we Venezuelans are witnessing the worst of all nightmares: our homeland being sold and given away on a silver platter to the Castro communist regime. I don’t understand then how someone like Ms. Rodrigues, who is musically educated and currently living in England (one of the greatest democracies of the world) can defend the current Venezuelan government, perpetrator of such unimaginable human atrocities.

    Finally, here is a link in Twitter. You can also do your own research of the facts.

    https://twitter.com/search?q=%23sosvenezuela%20%23prayforvenezuela&src=tyah

    Please pray for Venezuela.

  • I didn”t know anything about this lady Clara Rodriguez but my sources tell me that she’s the daughter of the well-known Venezuelan communist named Argenis Rodríguez, author of books such as “Escrito con Odio” (“Written with Hatred”). I ask Ms. Rodriguez herself to please correct me if I’m wrong. That would explain her support for the Cuban-Venezuelan regime.

    Ms. Gabriela Montero: Please receive my sincere admiration, respect, sympathies and solidarity!

    Mr. Norman Lebrecht: you should realize Ms. Gabriela Montero’s musical stature as one of the best performers on planet Earth and in my opinion, it’s completely unfair to compare her with Ms. Rodriguez in any way, shape or form.

    • Dear Sebastian, thank you for your post. I believe Mr Lebrecht holds Gabriela in a very high respect. I do agree Gabriela is simply unique and absolutely incomparable to other ‘artists’.

  • I did read Ms. Rodriguez tweets a couple of days ago, but they suddenly disappeared or were deleted from her Twitter account. Her position is not clear. She does sound like a leftist which is perfectly alright. One thing for sure is that she should be thankful to the great Gabriella Montero who put her on the musical map! At least now some people know the name Rodriguez as a pianist. I must say however that, from what I’ve read on the social networks, Rodriguez’ political views are not appreciated by the victims of the horrible venezuelan regime.

  • I was able to read Ms. Rodriguez tweets a couple of days ago, but they suddenly disappeared or were deleted from her Twitter account. Her position is not clear. She does sound like a leftist which is perfectly alright. One thing for sure is that she should be thankful to the great Gabriella Montero who put her on the musical map! At least now some people know the name Rodriguez as a pianist. I must say however that, from what I’ve read on the social networks, Rodriguez’ political views are not appreciated by the victims of the despicable Venezuelan regime.

  • Dear readers, please stop being for one or the other. Rrather try to remember what the whole issue is about and try to contribute your emotional input towards making things around you right.

    I am reposting this from Gabriela’s page.

    My dear Sam, who is Irish, but a great defender of true democracy in Venezuela wrote this, and it’s too good not to repost!

    The statement he is replying to is:

    “nearly all of the opposition protests that have taken place recently in Vzla. would not be tolerated in any democratic nation in the world”

    Please, let’s take a moment to ask what European countries would or would not tolerate. I am European:

    – Would we tolerate 57.3% inflation? NEVER!

    – Would the UK – population 60 million – tolerate 50,000 murders per year on its streets? Impossible even to contemplate – currently we have about 550 per year.

    – Would Germany, say, tolerate a corruption index of 1.9/10, even LOWER than that of countries like Iran, Honduras, DR Congo, Myanmar, Angola, Zimbabwe and Burundi? Would the Germans congratulate themselves for only narrowly beating Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia. Out of 175 nations, would they tolerate ranking 160th? Would they passively acquiesce with only 15 places to fall?

    – Would any nation in Europe tolerate 93% impunity? In other words, which civilized European nation would allow only 7% of murderers to be

    convicted?

    – Would the French sit back and watch passively while Paris became the world’s most deadly capital city?

    – Would ANY democratic nation in Europe – and elections alone do NOT make a democracy – tolerate the total erosion of the independence of the three principal branches of government?

    – Would ANY democratic nation in Europe tolerate the takeover of ALL principal media outlets by the state?

    – Would Norway, or any other democratic nation in Europe, tolerate the collapse of it’s nation’s infrastructure, including the decay of its very own golden egg – the fossil fuel sector?

    – Would ANY European nation tolerate kleptocracy and nepotism as witnessed on such obscene levels in Venezuela?

    – Would ANY European nation sit back and watch their country slide so irresponsibly and catastrophically into social and economic free-fall while sitting on the world’s largest fossil resources at a time of maximum value?

    Let’s now have a look at Europe. What has caused the Europeans to protest in recent years? Against what might they protest today?

    – The HIGHEST INFLATION in Europe right now is under well under 2%, and many European nations are experiencing negative inflation. Reminder: Venezuelan inflation is at 57.3%, and it’s currency has collapsed.

    – The LOWEST CORRUPTION RATING in Europe belongs to Greece, with a shameful 4/10. How did the Greeks respond in recent years? The people took to the streets and set Athens ablaze with months of riots, strikes and protests. The result? With assistance from the rest of Europe, severe economic austerity measures were imposed and the economy restructured. Economic contraction has been stabilized and slowed, and Greece is now in negative inflation. NOTE: Greece has olive oil, antiquity and a tourist industry. It does not have the world’s largest oil reserves.

    – Here’s a relevant and fascinating correlation between transparency/corruption and socio-economic success. Read it carefully: the world’s 4 most SUCCESSFUL, SAFE and EGALITARIAN societies are all social democracies. In other words, they all did what Chavez promised he WOULD do, but failed so miserably and criminally to achieve. They all foster a social morality which looks after all citizens equally. Because the people WANT IT. They DEMAND it. They CARE. Citizens CONTRIBUTE, rather than steal. Governments administer and serve, rather than dictate and indoctrinate. ALL FOUR are in Scandinavia, and one of them, Norway, is a fossil fuel economy. Between them, they occupy the TOP FOUR spots on the corruption index, as the world’s LEAST corrupt nations.

    – It would take hundreds of years for these four nations to produce the number of murders endured by Venezuela in one year.

    I think I have made my point. Successful democracies operate on a constant system of checks and balances. European governments, these days, rarely lurch so far from the center as to impose seismic ideological shifts overnight. When they did, in the early 20th century, the world experienced the darkest chapters in all of human history. And neither system prevailed. Both failed, and failed again in other incarnations, like Cuba and North Korea today. When poor decisions are made in the halls of European democracies, citizens DO take to the streets, because it is their right, and they often do so with violence and anger. Remember the Poll Tax riots in the UK, or the miners’ strike, or the Stephen Lawrence riots?

    Any deviation from tolerable social or economic policy in Europe has ALWAYS been met with the strongest protests. But the important point is that these kinds of protests are rarely required. The three independent branches of government generally find a democratic and sane way of keeping things in balance. Never would a European nation experience the sort of social degradation that is endemic today in Venezuela. NEVER! It simply would not be allowed to escalate beyond even the smallest percentage of what the Venezuelan people have to tolerate today. But that is because, apart from a prevailing sense of human dignity, these nations have effective police and armed forces who are not trading weapons and taking bribes and even kidnapping and murdering those they are supposed to be serving. And they have judicial systems whose judges are not hand-picked to serve a grossly corrupt autocracy. Citizens of these countries enjoy security and protection from those who would otherwise repress and usurp total power.

    So yes, please continue to make comparisons between Venezuela and the world’s successful and transparent democracies. It only serves to underline Gabriela’s own strenuous protests perfectly. And you too, Clara, should demand FAR better from the government of Venezuela. You should aspire to emulate social democracies like Norway, instead of supporting and applauding Venezuela’s catastrophic failures in every single sector. Judge your government by its achievements and failures, not by its empty rhetoric and unfulfilled promises. Or do you have too much to lose for such circumspection?

    • Dear Ms. Burstin,
      Thank you for your excellent response. I hope everyone will read it. It is assumed by supporters of Chavismo that anyone who opposes the regime is a right-wing fascist. Not so. Many of the current opponents of Chávez once believed in him. He and his cronies perpetuated and incremented exponentially the social ills of Venezuela, including corruption, nepotism, ineptitude and ignorance, and created new ones, such as class warfare, free-range militias, and government-supported criminality. The Venezuela of my youth, with all its problems, was a paradise compared to the hell it is today. Many intellectuals in the West have a romantic view from afar of Venezuela . All it tells me is that they do not do their homework, and they are neither intellectuals nor serious advocates of social welfare. They are poseurs.

  • What a tangled mess.

    Seeing the writing on the wall in 2010 (a year before the murder rate reached 19,336), Gabriela began her public resistance – at great personal and professional risk – to the extremes of violence and corruption which have now brought about the total collapse of Venezuela, socially and economically. Her predictions were absolutely spot on.

    She has used music to build bridges of empathy for those suffering. She has composed a major work out of pocket to portray the contemporary Venezuelan landscape in music. She always dedicates part of her recitals to improvise and meditate on the sorts of violence and corruption that not one single reader of this blog would EVER tolerate in his or her own country. And she has firmly rejected the inducement of petro-dollars to represent her government’s interests abroad on the concert stage.

    Gabriela knows who she is and what she stands for, and openly declares it by her actions.

    Yet Gabriela is now cast as a “radical” and a “fanatic” by Clara, because she challenges her in public over a “tweet” (that Clara voluntarily published) that SUPPORTS those who have brought about such unlivable conditions and opposes those bravely calling for the restoration of dignity, security and the economy. Because she calls her out for supporting and quoting the opinions of journalists like Mark Weisbrot, who manages to publish the following gem with zero awareness of its nail-in-the-coffin, foot-shooting irony:

    “Some people blame the government for an additional three killings by armed civilians; in a country with an average of more than 65 homicides per day, it is entirely possible these people acted on their own.”

    Stop. Repeat:

    “MORE THAN 65 HOMICIDES PER DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” A quote from The Guardian!!!!!!! From the man who co-wrote Oliver Stone’s “South of The Border”. Clara’s go-to source of information on Venezuela has just spilled the blood-red beans, and they have landed all over the lap of Ms. Rodriguez, and of people like Ed (whoever you are) and Anonymous (whoever you are) and all of Slipped Disc’s other insistent apologists for this tragic farce they love to call “Revolution!”. It is indeed revolutionary gentlemen. It is revolutionary in the extent of its failure to cash in the winning lottery ticket buried beneath its feet for the benefit of ALL of its citizens. It revolutionizes the very definition of incompetence, of waste, of corruption, of mismanagement, of decline.

    Is it now considered an act of aggression and radicalism to strenuously oppose murder and corruption on a grand scale? Is it now considered “dictatorial” and “undemocratic” – as suggested by the brave Mr/Mrs Anonymous above – for Gabriela to expect fellow human beings to fight for those who have no voice, to advocate for Mr. Weisbrot’s 65-plus daily victims of murder in the hell-hole that is modern-day Venezuela?

  • This has become as much a propaganda war as anything, but frankly, unless you want to believe the misinformation and disinformation from the mainstream media, Prof. Rodriguez is much more on the mark than Sam or Sebastian, et al. And no one on the other side wants to acknowledge the CIA’s role in Venezuela’s political violence since before the accession of Maduro’s predecessor.

    • I see we’ve reached the “wreckers, kulaks and foreign agents” stage of the revolution.

      Now, class, repeat with me: when you have a state-run oil company the state looks at it as a cash cow. When the state looks at it as a cash cow, the state underinvests in capital projects in order to pay for other things (or line its own pockets: Chavez was worth a couple of billion when he died). When the state underinvests in capital projects, oil production declines. When oil production declines, less revenue comes in from the sale of oil. When less revenue comes in from the sale of oil, there’s less money available for other programs. When there’s less money available for programs, the state debases its currency to pay for them. When the state debases its currency, there’s rampant inflation. When there’s rampant inflation, the state imposes price controls. When the state imposes price controls, there are shortages of everything. When there are shortages of everything, there are protests and disorder. When there are protests and disorder, the state smacks you in the side of the head with a club. Don’t let the state smack you in the side of the head with a club: avoid socialism.

      • There is a slight problem with the trajectory of your argument, Greg, in that the oil industry was – correct me if I´m wrong – ¨state-owned¨ well before Chavez came to power. It was the DISTRIBUTION of the revenue that was the problem. The vast majority of the population saw no benefits and were completely shut out of the social-political sphere, although they were the ones who had to take the brunt of the IMF-induced austerity policies that Sam seems to be so fond of (see his comment regarding the crisis in Greece). Profits were creamed off by transnational corporations, effectively making Venezuela a rentier state serving an elite wealthy minority (the ones complaining the most now)

        If the opposition spent as much energy and money (much of it from the US) in reassuring the electorate that there will be no return to this under an alternative government and started offering positive solutions they might begin to gain more trust. Mr Capriles seemed to be starting down that path, which is probably why he nearly succeeded in the election. He has now been trounced by Lopez and Machado in a contest of who shouts loudest. http://venezuelablog.tumblr.com/post/77385352499/protests-in-abundance-wisdom-in-short-supply

        It is possible that the government could behave so badly, causing such a dramatic change in public mood that a new government might prevail by default. But what sort of regime might that prove to be, bearing in mind what we now hear coming out the Ukraine? However corrupt people in the government are perceived to be, things would have to get so much worse for disillusioned working-class voters not to think that the ¨devil¨ you know is better than the ¨angel¨ you don´t.

        • And where is the DISTRIBUTION NOW, after the greatest influx of money in Venezuela’s history under Chavismo?

          Do tell us, if you know.

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