To Laureano, because imitation is the best form of flattery
It is not easy being Esteban. A day in my life.
It’s not easy being Esteban day after day. To begin with, imagine living in the Palace, not only is the building cavernous and ugly, but it is really badly located if you want to have some fun. I used to be able to step out into the streets when I first became President and talked to my people, but by now this is simply impossible. First of all, there are always protesters camped right outside. This is not only a pain, but it really pisses me off, because they are all pro-Esteban supporters that have a problem and want me to solve them. I would love to, but my task is bigger than solving their mundane problems like water or electricity housing or crime, this is after all, a revolution. I am very busy all the time.
The second problem is that the area has been turned to the opposition because Barreto did such a lousy job. I wish I had never seen that fat man in my life, I can’t even jail him now; he lives in Paris, where he is studying to become an intellectual, or something like that. I am an intellectual! I don’t need to go to Paris, I am a Marxist and I have never read Marx.
And the third problem is something Bernal told me, which differs from what El Assami says, Bernal says that even if Miraflores was not surrounded by opposition oligarchs, I could not step out because crime has gotten really bad nearby since I became President eleven years ago.
My day is really boring. I have to spend the morning trying to listen to Giordani give me very complicated explanations of all of the problems. I typically fall sleep in the middle and when I wake up and realize that I no longer know what he is talking about I use one of my standard phrases, like “I will ask Fidel about that” or “Let’s create a fund to solve that problem” or “Couldn’t we create a Misión to address that?”.
Jorge is really smart and when I say any of those sentences, he knows it is time to leave. I used to call Fidel at this time, but lately every time I call, he is sleep. I no longer ask to talk to Raul then, he is not only boring, but wants to cut me off, instead of the nice two hours I usually talk to Fidel for about our “procesos”. I don’t like Ramiro either, he looks mean, he is scary. But he said he would fix the electricity problem using the same techniques as in Cuba: Wiping the problem off the media.
After talking to Cuba using Skype (which doesn’t work very well, but Jesse said it is safer than anything else, everyone seems to be tapping each other in Venezuela by now), it’s lunchtime. I grab something fast, like an empanada and another café negro and run for the helicopter to go to Teresa Carreño and give people degrees or property titles. That way I can go on cadena for a few hours and just piss off the oligarchs. I talk a lot because it is really boring when I am not the center of attention. The other day I had to give fake degrees to fake students with red shirts, but nobody noticed. Afterwards they told me the students did not return the diplomas and want to practice medicine. Since we have a shortage of doctors I said it was ok, after all I govern Venezuela like the military, anyone can do anything. Our success proves it!
I have an assistant that always gives me three outrageous sentences to say at the end of my speeches, I chose one of them ahead of time. Today, I will piss off the opposition by saying that they are boycotting Twitter so that we Chavistas don’t have access to it. I love it! I bet the New York Times or Washington Post publishes it! After I said that, I tried to say something even more outrageous. With Saddam gone, Hitler dead and Gaddafi a good guy now, I could only think of Mugabe, so I said Mugabe was coming to teach the National Guard how to contain protests. That should go well, I bet El Nacional publishes it as its main headline tomorrow and they forget the dead students.
On the way back, I return by car, I do this to try to keep those bazookas guessing. The opposition says there have been no attempts on my life, but they happen daily, even if I don’t leave the Palace daily. I have stared into the face of those bazookas, over and over. They never let up, they say I am paranoid, but it’s not true, the oligarchs will not cease trying to kill me.
When I get to the Palace, I do like the Chiguire says “Prozac, Litio and siesta!” except of course he says “muerte” and no “siesta”, just laughing at me. That guy is funny, even if I hate his father. Laureano is not funny by the way. Neither is Radio Rochela, the second best reason after Mr. G to shut down that station. Fidel has always said:’ Don’t let them make fun at you, if the “people” laugh at their President, you are no longer their President, ask Bush”. That is why Twitter is the work of the devil, too many people laughing at me. I have to stop @Soy_Esteban, @ElBoliburgues and @chiguirebipolar from doing it, even if I like the last one.
When I wake up I call Ramirez. I always scare him, but I just call him to ask what was oil production and the price that day. I keep it all in a notebook. This is something I learned from my grandmother: “When I give you one Bolivar write it down, then when one is missing you know one of your brothers took it. “ I do the same with Ramirez, I add all the money coming in and when they say there is no money, I tell them my numbers. The money always shows up.
After Rafael, I call someone at random, but lately I always call Merentes. That guy is getting too clever for his own good recently. He told me he was going to lower the swap rate, but instead of giving me a number, he became a Mathematician again and said to 65% of the official rate, as if I could figure out how much that would be. When we devalued in January I told him to stop playing games, I want the swap rate to go to Bs. 4.3. So far he is not doing well, it was way above Bs. 6 yesterday. They used to lie to me about the swap rate, but then Jesse (I miss him!) taught me how to use the Internet and I look at Dolar Paralelo or Venezuelafx (Why do they have the same price? Don’t they believe in markets?) and surprise them when I tell them the rate.
I then go to my office to “work” or so they think. I actually go on the Internet to play Scrabble. Jesse also taught me this. I can play until 3 AM. I use to play with this lady in Montreal, she turned out to be from Venezuela and against me. I blocked her. Fidel then assigned two Cubans to play with me daily, but they were very sneaky, always using words from their Diccionario Cubano that I did not have. I now play with members of PSUV, that is why we put in the registration form if they like Scrabble, I can then look for them in my Facebook page.
I then drink coffee and play Scrabble until the late hours of the night. It is not really that hard to run Venezuela: money comes in from oil, you either give it away or import stuff and give it to people. The rest is useless. Oil is the only thing that Venezuelans know how to produce at a profit (hate that word!). So, I don’t care about the rest. Aluminum, iron, agriculture, Bah! They are always asking for more money, Rafael always gives me good news because he found some more money somewhere. That is why I keep him in his post. Jorge always says let everything go broke except PDVSA. I agree.
And yes, I have to take care of the oligarchs and the opposition. But they scare easily and haven’t realized I do too. Show them a rifle, threaten them with the guards, throw some tear gas at them and they run away or step back. We kill one of them every once in a while, but they deserve it. Ramiro says I have to get tougher, I will, one day, I tell him, but I worry that so many kids of the generals and lieutenants are part of the protests. I don’t want one of them killed, their fathers could get mad at me. They clearly were badly educated by their parents. They were ten when I came to power, they should all idolize me, be Bolivarianos and Rojos-Rojitos, instead they paint their hands with white paint and protest. Where did their families go wrong?
Yes, it is not easy being Esteban, but I like it and I plan to be here forever.