Juan Nagel on Tiaras and the Venezuelan Work Ethic

Another Casualty of Venezuela’s Revolution: Work Ethic | Transitions is a somewhat bizarre stream of consciousness piece by Juan Nagel for Foreign Policy Magazine. The argument is that Chavismo put a ceiling on the benefits that could be reaped from a strong work ethic by stifling competition through a series of government interventions into the economy. Nothing new. Really. Nothing at all. Except perhaps for the mental gymnastics and metaphorical pilates necessary to frame the Miss Venezuela pageant as the country’s last bastion of free market competition and merit based rewards. Interesting to note that Nagel is not calling his compatriots lazy – just saying they lack incentive or legitimate outlets for competition. Nagel suggests that the lack of opportunity in Venezuela has actually had the effect of re-channeling  any residual work ethic into criminal, corrupt, or grossly manipulative exploitation of the various black market opportunities that have emerged as a result of Venezuela’s socialist policies. There’s plenty of free-market enterprise, it’s just that most of it is criminal. There are certainly far more coherent critiques of Chavismo but leveraging the uncanny dominance of Venezuelans on the world beauty pageant circuit was a nice gimmick to boost web traffic (almost as shameless as me reblogging the link …with photo). While I generally agree that Chavismo is a highly unstable house of cards built more on empty rhetoric than effective policy, I find the most worthwhile part of Nagel’s blog post to be the revelation that the Miss Venezuela pageant is sponsored by none other than Diet Bimbo …er, “Bimbo Diet”.

Actually, if we’re gonna sell out, let’s go the distance and throw in another shot of  Irene Esser: a beacon of hope for neoliberal values in Venezuela.

Esser

Venezuela

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“Creíamos que el socialismo del siglo XXI no había sido capaz de crear al hombre nuevo. Pero no es cierto. El hombre nuevo existe. Es una bestia de rapiña. Se venía formando desde antes. El chavismo lo doctoró”.
– Tulio Hernández
Venezuelan sociologist and columnist for El Nacional

The quote is taken from the end of an article in El País on perceptions of social and political crisis in Venezuela. Well, the article is pretty clear what perception is most accurate – the author sees Venezuela on the fast track to an Escape From New York style post-apocalyptic anarchy. So with angry mobs of drivers taking control of the streets and people lining up around the block for toilet paper, is president Maduro -when not busy accusing the US of plotting his assassination- merely overseeing the final death knells of Chavismo? Or has the demise of the neo-Bolivarian dream been greatly exaggerated…?