Pity poor Wyre Davies. Having spent a few years as a BBC Heroic Palestinians vs. Jew-Nazis Middle East correspondent, where he must have felt like he was walking on eggshells stacked precariously on top of eggshells, he’s now back to his area of university study, Latin America. Except now he’s clearly having to, as they say, file with his editor in mind and give Venezuela’s descent into Pol Pot territory the soft touch.
The inspiration for his report is the coming local and regional elections in Venezuela. Davies does lay out the basics that the election will be viewed as a referendum on President Maduro’s extremist policies. We get a statement from one of the opposition candidates and are told that critics feel Maduro’s policies will harm the country. He dutifully balances the critics with a pro-Government voice, and lays blame for the heated environment evenly on both sides. Fortunately, this isn’t Israel vs. Palestinians, so Davies can be a bit more forthcoming about how bad the Left’s favored side really is.
In more ways than one these are difficult days in Venezuela as the government and the opposition accuse each other of trying to systematically undermine the country’s economy.
It is quite common these days to see queues outside shops where there has been a fresh delivery of milk or toilet paper – basic goods that many Venezuelans no longer take for granted.
The left-wing popularist government tries to offset the notion of a crisis by running heavily discounted food and produce markets – counteracting, it says, the actions of profit-hungry private companies.
Good enough so far. Davies then goes on to mention that Maduro’s extremist economic noise is more than just “rehtoric”:
Two weeks ago, President Maduro ordered a chain of electronic stores called Daka to slash their prices, accusing it of defrauding ordinary people.
The allegation was that businesses were taking advantage of the huge discrepancy between the official, controlled rate for US dollars and what it is possible to get on the black market.
What Davies doesn’t mention in this report is that Maduro has gone much further than this. Presumably that’s because Maduro made the announcement the day after Davies filed his report, so he wouldn’t know about it. Except this plan was already known, and the President was asking for support for it two weeks ago. There have apparently been a lot of protests against the policy from ordinary people, so it’s not just political rhetoric from the opposition party. It’s a real shame Davies doesn’t read the news in his new beat. It’s either that or he and his editor simply didn’t want you to know how bad it was getting. Surely it can’t be that, can it?
In any case, Maduro’s claimed that 99% of businesses his crew has investigated are gouging customers in pursuit of evil profits (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?), and that yesterday (Saturday, Nov. 30), he launched a new round of even stricter inspections to root out the “capitalist parasites”. It’s not just a few electronics stores now: it’s going to be thousands of businesses. And there will be an election on top of it, which should be fun.
Even Davies, still reality-based for the moment, is allowed by his editor to gently, softly admit that “it is difficult to see what such policies do for business confidence.” Only without knowing that Maduro has just taken it up a couple of notches, you don’t get the full picture of what’s going on. After this, we stray into the realm of Left-wing fantasy.
It’s now the point in these BBC reports where they wheel out a vox pops for that local human touch. And so Davies finds one. The topic is whether or not Hugo Chavez’s legacy of heroic wealth redistribution helped the poorest and most vulnerable. You already know the answer to that, so I’ll just let Davies set up the background story:
Critics say Venezuela is now becoming ungovernable. One stark example is the Tower of David.
This oil-rich country once had plans to build Wall Street in the heart of Caracas.
But in 2007, homeless squatters invaded an unfinished financial centre and more than 1,000 families now live in the Tower of David.
The residents pay a basic form of rent to keep the building running.
So the government owned it, and allowed a bunch of squatters to take over. No rent is charged, just some maintenance fee, which means the building itself is a gift. Which is why the building is unfinished. No evil profits means no completing the stairs or fixing anything if it breaks. But you’re not meant to think about that. I suppose it’s irrelevant since no other contractors wanted to take it over many years ago when the government was trying to auction it off, and Chavez apparently had better things to do with his oil wealth in the end. The BBC even sent a camera crew to do a nice video report on the wonders of this communal adventure.
To be fair, Davies doesn’t present it as any kind of paradise. Indeed he introduces it as a sign of dashed hopes and dreams. But without blame, of course, and the real ugliness is somewhat sanitized. If this existed under a nominally Right-wing government, you can bet the BBC would have some ominous music playing in the background. We can’t blame Socialism. However, he goes on to say that the squatters moved in due to “pressures on social housing elsewhere”. Sounds familiar, no? In other words, no matter how many people you drive into poverty because you’ve run your country into the ground, you must still magically provide housing for them all. Davies uses the language of the Left to describe the circumstances. That’s probably in the BBC style guide.
One has to respect the residents, though, as they’ve somehow managed to set up a church and school on the premises. There a bunch of shops, and there’s even a motorbike taxi service to take people around the complex. Hey, free market capitalism helping people get along! Don’t worry, Davies doesn’t describe it like that. It’s probably banned in the BBC style guide. Instead, it’s presented as one element of the quasi-normal lifestyle they’ve magically set up for themselves. (In case anyone is wondering how motorcycles carry people upstairs, here’s a good set of photos of the interior. You can get a real sense of the communal paradise the BBC isn’t quite showing you. It’s a tale of the success of the socialist communal lifestyle, remember.)
The reality of the building is somewhat uglier. It was originally started by the usual sort of wealthy financier back in the early 90s. Then Venezuela’s banking crisis hit, and the money ran out. It wasn’t recent, part of the global financial crisis the rest of the world has been dealing with, nor is it even Chavez’s fault, as this happened before his time. But we’re not told that. All we hear from the BBC is that this is the result of some vaguely-known crisis, once upon a time. Which dream was dashed, exactly? The one where an oil-rich, productive country with a thriving middle class was going to continue to build great things, or the extreme Socialist dream of Chavez and the BBC? And who dashed which one, eh? You don’t need to worry about that. All you need to know is that the government must look after the poor, no matter how many of them it creates.
Chavez got elected riding the wave of populist resentment about that 90s crash, so this Tower of David can actually be viewed as a symbol of his utter failure to truly help the poor. Note to Leftoids: “maintain at the lowest level in perpetuity” isn’t really “help”. All the tales of heroic redistribution and reducing income inequality we’ve been fed over the years are a load of nonsense. Instead of finishing this building when his government took it over and providing marvelous social housing for the poorest among them, Chavez funded FARC, set up that publicity stunt of an orchestra music program, and died a billionaire. A billionaire, for heaven’s sake. And Davies can’t even mention that.
But to the BBC, this is all just a sign of dreams dashed by fate, or something. You’re given only the vaguest background, and at no time are you told who or what really failed here. The BBC will have to be dragged into the horrible reality of their beloved Socialism kicking and screaming. As usual with Venezuela fail stories, the BBC doesn’t think it’s worth quoting an actual independent economist like they do with certain other countries’ economic policies. The only voices you hear can be dismissed as partisan.
Now for the vox pops. One of the residents tells his tale.
Among the residents is Wilmer Angel. He runs a small business, making metal moulds, from the room in which he lives with his wife and four children.
Wilmer’s outlook is positive and he is certainly not looking to anyone else for help.
“No government has ever done anything for us,” he tells me with an ironic laugh. “Yes, I’m a Chavista because at least under that government no-one stopped us taking over this place, but what we’ve got here we built for ourselves.”
And there you have it. He lives in a building the government let him have because it didn’t actually give a damn, is allowed to run his private, free market business without government interference, and has a US-style attitude towards personal improvement and industry. Again, BBC journalists wouldn’t dream of presenting it that way. But the cult of personality is strong, and he’s a Chavista in spite of reality. So he’s the perfect voice for the BBC. They’re probably all Chavistas there, not knowing any better (at the Torre David, I mean. Draw your own conclusions about the BBC). Magical thinking is hard to change.
Davies concludes his piece by mentioning the endemic corruption and the delusional Chavista voice is balanced out by another opponent of the government. Then he says this:
Nicolas Maduro says he is governing for all Venezuelans and for the national good, but as each day progresses the country feels even more divided.
You can tell this isn’t a story about the US because the BBC journalist isn’t blaming racism or an evil opposition for it. He’s actually blaming this President for divisive rhetoric. If only this honesty could be transported to the BBC’s US bureau.
Pity poor Wyre Davies. He knows what’s going on, but has to tread on eggshells when it comes to blaming the policies which has created the nightmare he’s witnessing, and to play down just how bad it’s become. Why? He must feel very foolish for what his editor has ordered him to do.
Don’t know anything of the substance, but the fingerprints of BBC autopilot groupthink are all over it. Not “What’s happening” reporting, but “How am I going to spin it so that its acceptable copy to the Islington and Barnes metro-Marxists back home at the BBC.
re: link to the slides
Slide 15, “The Last Supper” showing Jesus in the centre flanked by Fidel Castro, Mao, Lenin, Marx, Stalin, Simón Bolívar, and others, beside Him.
First, I was slightly annoyed at typical Leftist stupidity and trash. On further thought, Jesus came to save sinners, and the biggest mass murderers of the the last century were all communist/ socialists. So yes, He came to save even these wretched creatures, who tortured hundreds of millions of people to death, and affected countless more millions.
The 20th century should be labelled as The Genocide century.
On further thoughts on the Genocide century
The 20 the century was when
1. Industrial methods were first used by the military to kill enemy soldiers.
2. Poison gas was first used by nations on soldiers.
3. Industrial methods to annihilate political enemies – The USSR, Mao’s China, Nazis.
4. Atomic weapons (WMDs), first used on civilian cities.
5. Chemicals used to destroy the agriculture of a nation.
6. BBC used to destroy the culture of a nation.
Only so many lies you can listen to before you get to thinking “do they not remember what they reported yesterday?” BBC is famous for over-hyping Global warming for many years now. But they lied so big many years ago that they should be screeched at daily now for their claim: that in the summer a ship could sail across the northern seacoast of Canada. Nevermind they can’t do it now, no one is saying “hey, why did you lie to us about this fact? Or better yet, they should try to sail the good ship BBC themselves through the Canadian arctic without an icebreaker escort.
Minor correction – the American Civil War was the first war to use industrial means for kiiling.
I would tend to disagree as genocide has occurred throughout history, it just became more industrial in the Twentieth Century.
I see it as proof of magical thinking. These people still have complete faith in the system which caused their predicament, and that won’t be changed any easier than their belief in Jesus and the Resurrection.
There’s a reason why the BBC decided not to show you that image. It makes the squatters appear much more extreme than most people would be comfortable with, so they left it out, because it detracts from the impression they want you to have, from the story they want to tell.
David Preiser, am I glad to see you commenting again! I have missed your comments in general and on American topics in particular.
As stories on the BBC go, this one hasn’t. It has received next to no coverage.
What a contrast to the endless panegyrics Hugo Chavez received when he was orchestrating this mess!
News manipulation at the BBC’s miserable best.
The problem we have here is that once Venezuela runs outs of internal targets the socialists in charge will look at Columbia in which to blame for their ills. With the recent acquisition of weapons from Russia and China , and that lack of any similar weapon systems in Columbia on paper it should be a rout. However the Columbian army is the best in South America. ( from years of fighting the Chavez funded FARC) so I expect them to take a very heavy toll of the imperial Venezuela armed forces. It appears to be par the course for all socialist regimes.
Seems incredible to em that things have lasted so long. I am genuinely not sure what will happen this weekend with the local elections. The legalised looting and forced underprice selling will have secured a few thousand votes but there are no independent TV channels now and a while back the internet has started to be controlled on the pretext of shutting down sites tat post the alternative dollar rates; black market currently 10 times the official rate (in typical Venezuela good humour when being shat on they call it the Voldemort dollar). While PDVSA keeps giving its gasoline away free and the central bank printing money to be able to lend to PDVSA the shit-storm will continue. …to hyperinflation and beyond.
It’s either going to be Mugabe or Pol Pot time, depending on how organized and controlled the military and police are. Either way, the BBC will blame outside factors and sanitize it as much as possible.
Thanks David for an interesting and informative skewering of the BBC. Makes a change from the usual …
I very much agree with you DP111 There has never been a successful socialist government anywhere, China killed 60 million USSR killed 40 million Cuba has most of its population swimming to the US. No one knows what socialism is Its just in the mind of the man to who holds the guns. If you live in Hampstead the world may seem a little different.
The problem is that the true believers, including so many at the BBC, will dismiss that all as cases of the beautiful ideology being ruined by a few bad apples. Have you ever asked a dedicated true believer in Communism or even Socialism why all that went wrong? The answer is always a variation on the theme that it just hasn’t yet been done properly.
This is one reason why I always laugh at those who fret about the Godless aspect of Communism: it’s really just a replacement for religion. The capability for magical thinking is still there, grabbing hold of a substitute ideology. Some Beeboids dimly grasp this concept, which is why they leap to promote any Christian clergy who makes the right Socialist noises.
Warmism has a similar function, for obvious reasons.
‘which is why they leap to promote any Christian clergy who makes the right Socialist noises.’ Agreed David, and has anybody picked up on the (oh joy) trailers for Rev Giles ‘Occupy’ Fraser’s new series on Community…..what’s the betting we get yet another yawn inducing misinterpretation of Mrs Thatcher’s no such thing as society speech.
Is this the one that’s trailed with the question ‘Whatever happened to communities?’ That one has me scratching my head because, as far as I can make out, they are very much alive and well and have been since 1997 – gay communities, working class communities, muslim communities, Somali communitites, the police community, the care community, the nursing community – in fact, everything and everybody is an effing community these days and to my mind all it does is highlight differences and encourage division.
Prior to 1997 I recall it was hardly used at all – especially in the above contexts. What we did have, and I can remember since childhood, were villages, towns, suburbs, neighbourhoods etc. and ‘people’ (with those of foreign extraction being called exactly what they were – Indians, French, Italians etc. without the need for the superfluous ‘community’ suffix). What the hell happened? Who decided to start using the word in this way?
Excellent start of a big theme here you three above.
1. GODLESS=remove such a “spirit as communism” with cauterisation?…get seven worse.
2. As the likes of China Plate Saints (CPS)like Giles banish the real Jesus from “The Church”-and as our governments “Pay his biddding”(Pb)…Islam will ensure that they keep Him mentioned and in the “public square”…and if that breaks a few Churchy heads(with a lot of “collateral”), then we`ll have run out of road-and we`ll still need their oil, even if we still are able to blag some red diesel or what have you.
3. As Ghost Town said “people getting angry”-who could possibly argue with their reasons for getting so!
All the BBC can do is minister their chloroform and hope we convert it to ether in our brains…but their chemistry is as wrong and weird as Al Gores!
the bbc and there staff and presenters are just becoming like some beehive cult of marxists,leninists and maoists when it comes to freedom of speech on there phone ins,try getting a e mail or a 50p text which they charge for read out on radio 5 lives nicky cambell or stephen nolans show with a opposing view to mass immigration under new labour when they opened the gates to the third world and now eu immigrants into england,you have no chance of your e mail or text read out unless you have a shared lefist ideology with the presenters and producers on them phones ins.
Venezuela has more oil and gas than Saudi Arabia – think about that….
Chavez won that last election with the electoral equivalent of an Argos catalogue based binge for votes giveaway (it’s not a mystery why Maduro targeted the local Currys) . Levels of corruption are monstrous – the antics of the state oil company are legendary.
There are a lot of pissed off hard working people and a significant number of desperately poor people – neither group really being helped by the bunch of ideologically unhinged kleptomaniac nutters presently at the helm – but a fluent Welsh speaker 3000 miles away provides such analytical insight and fulsome reportage – just wunnerful….
An excellent blog (Warning: I end up going off topic – please forgive me) and one which brings back memories of an ex-friend who castigated me for daring to say – on a wonderfully sunny Saturday afternoon as we walked past Trent Bridge cricket ground on our way to The City Ground to watch Nottingham Forest (probably lose again) – ‘When the weather’s like this, there’s no better place to be than England’.
My ex-friend, and his now ex-girlfriend looked at me aghast, as if I’d said something offensive.
“No”, they both said, almost in unison, and my ex-friend continued, “There are many more beautiful places to be in the world than England.”
I felt embarrassed. But should I have? I think back and realise now that both he and his girlfriend either misunderstood what I was suggesting (that England ain’t that bad when the sun is shining) or they had sudden suspicions that I’d joined the National Front or the BNP!
So, apart from the obvious, why is he an ‘ex-friend’?
Well, he now lives in Singapore. Not bad, but his relationship has broken down and he misses England.
A mutual Forest fan friend of ours died 2 years ago and my ex-friend couldn’t make the funeral because his commitments in Singapore did not allow him leave to attend. (That’s Singapore – shit happens, mate. Get to work!)
I won’t say diddums to that because even I feel sorry for him, but that gets me to my point;
Britain is my home and the devil I know. Leaving Britain is like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. If I want to ‘big up’ my town/city/county/country, I will without fear of being mocked, because I can point your attention to a hundred countries like Venezuela.
I can point to countries like India with collapsing buildings, the Philippines prone to typhoons, Russia with its corruption…
The list goes on and on…
And yet you seem to think that these countries hold more promise than England and the UK???
So, my ‘right-on’ and oh so trendy ex-friend; when the sun is shining, where in the world would you rather be?
My ex-friend’s stance is a result of self-indoctrination. It’s a very BBC-like process. Work out who is the underdog, and fight for their cause. (Because they tend to be underdogs themselves.)
Socialism is a long doomed ideology. It’s a mechanism for one person to overcome many. The ‘politics of envy’ is the only route to political success the left has today. Venezuela has demonstrated that and turned its own people into paupers.
My ex-friend would have been proud of me if told him I was moving to Venezuela, a few years ago. But he lives in Singapore.
He’s never been to Spain, come to think of it. Because he thinks Spain is full of piss-heads!!!
Now that’s ignorance!