After eight years of blogging, I think I am entitled to a very personal rant. I have received a few comments about me noting that Chavez broke relations with Colombia while meeting with Maradona, most of them critical of even including Maradona in the post, or in the way which I referred to him.
Sorry people, screw Maradona, he has no right standing next to any Venezuelan President, least of all to have the dignity to be present at a major announcement about Venezuelan politics, whether I agree with it or not. (I disagree, because Chavez is just playing for Chavez, not for Venezuela)
Maradona is and should be nobody’s hero. Not to the Venezuelan President, nor to the Venezuelan people. He is the typical Latin American idiot, who God gave him all this talent and he has screwed up and wasted it all the time, because all he is interested in is himself. And if this reminds you of Hugo Chavez, you are right, he had the goodwill to do so much and the money came right after it and he did nothing but waste the opportunity, just like Maradona.
Come on! God even threw in his hand to help him! Contrast that with those that are always asking God to even give them a hint he exists!
And since we are on the subject, let me tell you a couple of stories of three true heroes, one long, one short. (Yes, that is two, but a third hero of mine is involved)
In the long story, there was a much-maligned President of Venezuela, whose name was Carlos Andres Perez (CAP). Yes, the much despised and screwed up President during the IVth. Republic, which now seems like Nirvana compared to what we are witnessing.
After CAP left office in his first term, he was not loved. Oil prices went down during the last year of his first term, he had to cut the budget and worse, he had to wait ten years to be President again.
It is not easy being a former President in any country…
But then someone created the so called “South Commission” and invited distinguished people from the Southern hemisphere, who would meet to discuss the important problems of the world. Someone suggested Carlos Andres Perez and given his status as an ex-President, he rapidly accepted.
Separately, Abdus Salam, the Physics Nobel Prize in 1979 for his work on quantum electrodynamics and creator of the ICTP in Trieste, was also invited. Somehow, Salam took a liking to the then energetic Venezuelan politician sitting next to him at meetings and traveling and talking to him. Salam convinced Perez that the only way out of underdevelopment was through science and technology and convinced him that a country like Venezuela should spend 2% of GDP in science and technology.
CAP bought the story. In fact, if my memory serves me right, he went to Trieste a month before his election and promised Salam that he would increase the Science and Technology budget to 2% of GDP. Once elected, CAP even went further: On his first trip abroad he stopped first at Trieste to visit Salam and ratify his promise.
Events conspired against CAP, the Caracazo took place as he was just getting started and he was almost a lame duck before he even got started. He did try to help science and technology. He got a loan from the IDB to fund five areas of priority to the tune of US$ 90 million (Disclaimer: I was involved in this project) and created and funded a number of R&D institutions. But politics (as usual in Venezuela) took over.
The point is that I very much prefer CAP’s hero Abdus Salam than Chavez infatuation with a man, Diego Maradona, who is not precisely an example and represents (to me) the worst qualities of the Latin American idiot. Chavez examples and idols are no heroes’s, and we have to call a spade, a spade. Few of them have any redeeming qualities.
Screw Maradona! My heroes are absolute, not relative. So are my principles. Presidents should lead by example. Politicians should not lead by the most likely way to win an election, but the most honest way to do what is right for the people an set an example. That is why I will never be a good politician.
Which leads me in this rant to my second story. Many years ago when I was in science, another hero of mine, Richard Feynman, died. That day we had a meeting of scientists to discuss mostly irrelevant and mostly innocuous subjects. A brilliant Mathematician and friend, who emigrated many years ago, turned around and told me something like” I can’t believe we are discussing such trivial matters on the day Feynman died, rather than pay tribute to his work and accomplishments”
Those are true heroes that lead by example: Abdus Salam, who went form his farming village in Pakistan to a Nobel Prize and the promotion of science. Richard Feynman, son of inmigrants who would play with equations and bongoes at the same time. Both made full use of their God-given talent.
And, of course, there is my then good friend Gerardo Mendoza, the Mathematician in my story, who I lost track of, but whose values were also absolute and could not be compromised and who is always sorely missed.
Three true heros
End of rant!