Does Hugo Chavez Take Three Minute Showers?


hugo-chavez-red.jpgMy liberal friends who watch Latin America often cringe when I say this, but I really don’t like Hugo Chavez.
I recognize that he was democratically elected — but I think he’s a reckless leader in Latin America who has too much of a frequency to animate trouble beyond his borders.
In my play book Venezuela today is somewhat like the Iran of Latin America — and Cuba is Syria. I support immediate, serious engagement and a redirection of US-Cuba relations and US-Syria relations because that course would automatically rob both Iran and Venezuela of running room in their regions.
The latest from Hugo Chavez is. . .the three minute shower.
From a UPI report:

In the most direct response to the shortages yet, Chavez himself went on air to warn industries they would have their utilities cut off if they did not check wastage. For citizens fumbling in the dark due to power cuts, Chavez advised the use of a torch.
“If you get up at three in the morning to use the toilet, use a torch instead of turning the light on; that’s enough light, you don’t need more. Just leave the torch by the bed, it’s that simple,” Chavez said during an emergency Cabinet meeting, broadcast live.
He advised Venezuelans to get into the habit of showering for no more than three minutes.
Industry sources said that power generation plants nationalized by Chavez in 2007 needed not only new infusions of capital but also better management and due diligence to ensure their performance was competitive and made the best use of resources. Venezuelan opposition says very few investments have been made in the power sector since Chavez took office in 1999 after a landslide election victory the previous year.

I know that the US needs to deal with Chavez — though i think we need to do a better job containing him.
I seriously doubt that Hugo Chavez takes three minute showers himself — and I know that the world leaders who meet Chavez will need a lot longer under the spigot than that to feel clean again.
Just reminds me of that rather big pig in Animal Farm.
— Steve Clemons


21 comments on “Does Hugo Chavez Take Three Minute Showers?

  1. M Jones says:

    Have any of you seen the lasted BS from this jerk? You don’t have to worry about your 3 minute showers, especially when there is NO WATER or electricity. And yes, I know because I have been there in person and seen the empty shelves in grocery stores. I will be blunt. Chavez is turning Venezuela into a shit hole, like Cuba. If you think this is good, I strongly advise you to go live in Cuba and see what that is like. But you don’t have to. Just to to Venezuela, it is the same thing now: a pile of shit. Too bad the Kennedy’s are not around anymore.


  2. David says:

    I wish Chavez were wiser and I wish he were more statesmanlike, and I hope he does not indulge in the kind of projection of power that has been America’s stock-in-trade in Central and South America, including complicity in the short-lived military overthrow of his democratically elected administration.
    But he is a champion of the formerly dispossed of Venezuela, he stands as a symbol of the ability of a nation to reverse a US-desired military coup in an oil-rich neighbor to the south, and he is a part of the growing phenomenon of self-determination, especially by the indigenous populations, in various countries to the south.
    I find his alliance with Iran problematic, but I find the history of the US as relates to Iran far, far, far more problematic. Unless Obama can continue his first efforts at honesty about the history of US foreign policy, and at least privately acknowledge US complicity in the short-lived coup as he seeks a legitimate relationship with Venezuela as an independent nation with full rights of self-determination, I do not see how the United States can have a leg to stand on regarding Chavez’s mischief-making, if that is a correct descriptor (I honestly do not know what Chavez is and is not doing in that regard).
    US occupation of Colombian military bases is a hostile act toward Venezuela and the rest of the South American countries seeking to chart their own courses with an eye to using their natural resources to benefit their commonweal over narrower business interests, most with strong US ties.
    Actually, the projection of US military power in South America via bases in Colombia is utterly unacceptable in any context other than the idea that South America is our sphere of influence in its imperialist connotation. Chavez has a right to be suspicious – and pissed off – given the history of the US in Central and South America, especially the frequency with which we have used military force to have our way with various countries in the region. Grenada and Panama were merely the most egregious, as was the Dominican Republic before that, and Chile in spades, perhaps the most inexcusable, most criminal of all, even if it, like Guatemala, and in the Middle East Iran, was not a direct military intervention, but rather simply the bloodiest, most ruthless US-backed military coup of the lot.
    I need something more specific that Chavez is actually doing to other countries in the region, and then I need to try to put it in perspective.
    Mostly he troubles me when he seems to lack politcal wisdom, but that is a general judgment, not a specific, incident-based critique. I do not know and do not trust the American spin on what his actual transgressions are.
    I’m trying to imagine us being reasonable toward a government that had been complicit in a military coup of our democratically elected administration.


  3. easy e says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Nov 07 2009, 7:35PM
    I think that says it all. Well put.


  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, when Chavez murders a million or so people with a war founded on bullshit, or fries people in white phosphorous, (with our blessing), or starts sticking chemical lightsticks up Muslim assholes, then maybe I’ll start thinkin’ he’s almost as slimey as the leaders of Israel and the United States are. But until then, I think I’ll just continue to compliment him on his acute sense of smell.
    I’ve got a good nose too, and I can smell the stench of sulphur emanating from DC and Tel Aviv, and I’m far away on the West Coast. Try as I might, my nose doesn’t pick up anything near as nauseous emanating from the south.


  5. Charles Caroili says:

    So, it’s not an issue of children dying because of the US embargo, but purely a geo-strategic issue Steve? Thanks for clearing that up.


  6. Dan Kervick says:

    WigWag, stick it. And stay on topic.


  7. WigWag says:

    “Steve, I don’t trust Chavez because he’s a showman. And I don’t trust showmen in general. He clearly likes being at the center of attention and some of his actions seem motivated more by the desire to make the maximum egotistic splash on the world stage than to achieve practical results.” (Dan Kervick)
    Sure its Hugo Chavez you’re talking about Dan? When I read the first paragraph of your comment, the first person that came to my mind was Barack Obama.


  8. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve, I don’t trust Chavez because he’s a showman. And I don’t trust showmen in general. He clearly likes being at the center of attention and some of his actions seem motivated more by the desire to make the maximum egotistic splash on the world stage than to achieve practical results.
    And obviously, he is no shrinking domestic-minded violet but is interested in having a broad influence in his region, and projecting the Chavez model beyond Venezuela’s borders. He “lives large”. That said, there is no doubt that at least some substantial number of Venezuelans are better off under Chavez than they were under the previous regime, and whether his efforts at expansive regional influence are good or bad depends on what those influences are. I think you should do more to identify the actual practical consequences of his actions and policies you find so troublesome.
    I’m not sure I understand your snootiness about calls for rationing, and government-inspired efforts to avoid waste and inefficiency. That’s the world we live in now, and it might not just be Venezuelans who have to get used to it. Some think we need an “efficiency revolution” to rival the productivity revolution that resulted from the introduction of information technologies over the past few decades.


  9. Michael C Gredell says:

    Steve, except in the U.S., a “torch” is a flashlight.


  10. samuelburke says:

    Steve, i dont think mr chavez likes what the u.s is doing in the region, neither do a lot of the other latin american leaders.
    intransigence works both ways specially now that the u.s is economically weaker and politically less influential because of their economic weakness.


  11. Steven Clemons says:

    WharfRat — mean nothing at all on a racial front with Chavez. I
    really don’t like what he is doing in the region — and I do believe
    that he is trying to create conditions in Latin America that are very,
    very problematic. Not dialing that down at all. I believe in
    engagement with leaders — even him — but it’s also important to
    be honest when one can that the kind of transnational mischief
    that he is trying to create inside other countries in that region is
    way over the line. I do think Chavez needs to be contained — and
    I see little to be confident about that Chavez is getting himself on a
    constructively responsible track. best, steve clemons


  12. WharfRat says:

    I think you should dial down the shrill factor here, Steve. Chavez is a barrel of problems, but I don’t think you’re exactly practicing the sort of diplomatic engagement you’re always preaching by talking about how people need a shower after being near Chavez.
    In fact, I think it’s a little bit touchy given just how much hatred of Chavez in the region is driven by the fact that he’s significantly less European than most of the other leaders in Latin America. He was, before Evo Morales, the closest thing the region had to an indigenous leader. So your slur that he’s dirty taps deeply into attitudes about the indigenous in Latin America. I hope that it’s something of which you were merely ignorant.


  13. JohnH says:

    it’s obvious that Steve doesn’t like Chavez. He wouldn’t even give him the benefit of explaining why there is water rationing–a drought. So I guess Steve must really think that it’s Chavez fault he’s not God!
    Steve does have some grounds for complaint on the issue of Venezuela’s lack of investment in electric power generation and distribution. Of course, one could argue that it’s no worse than the good old free market days in California, when Enron’s Kennie Boy, Bush and Cheney were making sure the state got looted. In the case of Venezuela, shortages are linked to low rates to consumers; in California, they were linked to price gouging. Though neither case presents a pretty picture, you can judge for yourself which system is preferable…


  14. Outraged American says:

    Israel doesn’t do “proxy” wars-she launches attacks against her
    neighbors/people she’s enslaved using US tax $$$. And “friends”
    remember the USS Liberty!
    Wait –I forgot about Israel’s proxy war in “Af-Pak” using US
    TROOPS. And NATO troops, although it appears the latter are
    smart enough to rarely leave the base unless they buy-off the
    native population.
    Israel is a poison and a cancer, and most importantly, one that
    will destroy life on Earth, when her endless provocations cause a
    nuclear war.
    Pakistan’s government is not going to stand when Israel attacks
    Jews are doing fine in the diaspora, leave it alone Nadine.


  15. nadine says:

    Aw, poor innocent put-upon Iran. They’ve been supporting proxy wars all around the Mideast for many years. Did the Saudis ask them to support the Howthi rebellion in northern Yemen? That has just touched off another cross-border defensive action. I expect the world to pay the same attention to this as to Gaza. Not.
    From the AP:
    Riyadh has been concerned about a spillover of the Yemeni fighting, of Iran’s alleged involvement in the conflict and of the possibility that Yemen-based al-Qaida militants could capitalize on the tense situation by smuggling fighters across the long and difficult-to-control border.
    More broadly, it raises concerns of another proxy war in the Middle East between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally.
    The Yemeni government has accused Shiite Iran of aiding the rebels while the rebels have accused Sunni Saudi Arabia, Iran’s fiercest regional rival, of carrying out bombing runs against them.
    The same dynamic has played out in various forms in Lebanon, where Iran supports the Shiite militant Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia favors a U.S.-backed faction, and in Iraq, where Saudi Arabia and Iran have thrown support to conflicting sides in the Sunni-Shiite fault-line.
    The Arab diplomats and Yemeni rebels said Saudi fighter jets and artillery bombardments hit across the border into northern Yemen on Thursday — the first reported Saudi incursion into Yemen in years.
    The northern rebels, known as Hawthis, have been battling Yemeni government forces the past few months in the latest flare-up of a sporadic five-year conflict. They claim their needs are ignored by a Yemeni government that is increasingly allied with hard-line Sunni fundamentalists, who consider Shiites heretics.


  16. Outraged American says:

    But Steve, Iran didn’t ask us to intervene in either Iraq or
    Afghanistan, so if she gets the ball in her court then, especially
    given Iran’s history of not invading other countries, why should
    Iran be at the center of the bulls eye?
    I’m not getting it. And I have talked to “experts” on, and in, all
    these countries.
    Why don’t you bottom line it and tell us exactly how Iran is a
    threat to the US? We’ve mucked around in Iran since the 1950s
    –do you expect Iran to respect and trust us?
    Given the tremendous amount we spend on our wars, and given
    Iran’s offers of rapprochement, wouldn’t it be easier to negotiate
    with Iran, or do you think that Iranians want the US as an
    Public opinion polls in Iran do not bear that out — Iranians (and
    Syrians and Lebanese) have no innate hostility to the US beyond
    that UsRael threatens them constantly. They admire our
    “culture” or lack thereof.
    So, again, I still want to know, in concrete terms, how Iran is a
    threat to the US or even Israel. And again, I don’t think Israel is
    going to survive, but she’s going to take us, and most probably
    the whole world, down with her.


  17. nadine says:

    “Doing things that put some distance between Syria and Iran is better statecraft strategy than all of the ridiculous talk about bombing Iran.”
    It would be, if it had any chance of success. But I have seen no evidence that anybody in DC, of either party, has any clue what makes Syria tick. Pretending that they are not rearming Hizbullah or sending Al Qaeda fighters into Iraq, when they are, has hardly proved constructive so far.


  18. Steven Clemons says:

    Thanks Frank — glad to hear!! I’m talking about pals here in
    DC. One of my closest pals on the left — someone I
    tremendously admire — is Sarah Stephens, Director of the
    Center for Democracy in the Americas. I also like Mark
    Borthwick at CEPR — and they both cringe when I raise my
    problems with Chavez.
    Outraged — though I believe in engaging Iran, I think Iran is a
    shrewd calculator of interest and power — and it meddles
    through non-state actors in the internal affairs of other
    countries (yes, the US does this too…), but it’s one of my softer
    red lines. I’m a progressive realist — and I don’t have a soft
    spot for Iran or Venezuela….I think they need to be engaged and
    hopefully encouraged with lots of international support towards
    a more constructive relationship with the world. Doing things
    that put some distance between Syria and Iran is better statecraft
    strategy than all of the ridiculous talk about bombing Iran.
    Hope this helps — all best, steve


  19. nadine says:

    “My liberal friends who watch Latin America often cringe when I say this, but I really don’t like Hugo Chavez.
    I recognize that he was democratically elected — but I think he’s a reckless leader in Latin America who has too much of a frequency to animate trouble beyond his borders.”
    Thank the Lord for small mercies. I’d ask your friends if they think it’s possible for Chavez to get democratically un-elected, which seems more to the point.
    Chavez is a left-wing dictator who has no intention of ever leaving office. He’s already ruling by decree; all that remains is for him to become President for Life. Anti-Americanism seems to be the North Star guiding his policies, whether its supporting the FARC or making alliance with Iran.


  20. Outraged American says:

    I take 3 minute showers if I shower at all. Chavez can be a
    swine, but I don’t get Steve’s animosity to Iran.
    We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and thus threw the balance of
    power to Iran. Did Iran ask for these invasions? No, Iran
    actually helped us in our initial thrust against the mythical hydra
    now referred to as ‘The Taliban.”
    Iran’s reward? Nonstop UsRael threats after being labeled part of
    the “axis of evil.”
    I’m not getting this Steve hostility towards Iran on your part,
    perhaps you can explain?
    El Baradei just came out and said Iran’s Qom facility, “A hole in a
    mountain.” and “nothing to be worried about.”
    ElBaradei: Iran’s Qom Facility ‘Nothing to Be Worried About’
    “It’s a Hole in a Mountain,” IAEA Chief Notes
    And I am with Chavez on conserving energy. We should all do
    our part — ask my husband — he now needs a magnifying
    glass to “read” Playboy because I have switched off our lights for
    Having lived in both third and first world countries I find the
    amount of energy the “first” world wastes obscene on both a
    home and office basis.
    SWITCH OFF THOSE LIGHTS FOLKS and some Afghan bride whose
    wedding party isn’t bombed as a result might thank you. Or
    maybe not. Seriously, those Afghan beards give me the creepy-
    crawlies, maybe because of what might be crawling in them.
    I say we ship all the women of Afghanistan here and give them
    jobs as pole dancers in Reno. They would at least be less
    objectified than they are in their homeland.


  21. Frank C. says:

    Who are your friends? I live in SF now, used to live in NYC, and every liberal I know thinks/ thought Chavez was crazy and a buffoon and a big negative for Latin American politics.
    If your perceptions of left-of-center types are represented by your friends, you *really* need to get out more and meet some new people.


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