Thursday, November 08, 2012

Letter from Hugo Chavez

I have been waiting for a long time, months and months, to publish this little letter that came into my possession.  I had to wait long enough, and indefinitely enough, so that it would be harder to determine just who was the recipient.

A person who is on the faculty at a universidad in Venezuela applied for funding to travel abroad to a conference.  The funding was granted, and the person asked his/her bosses to approve the trip.  This was the letter that came back (I typed it out from a paper original, so forgive the lack of proper accents, and the misspellings):

Republica Bolivariana De Venezuela            (DATE)
Estimada y estimado compatriota
Tenga un saludo cordial y Revolucionario!
    Cumplimos con informarle que su solicitud no puede ser ni sera procesada por diferencias de pensamientos.  Esto es debido a que su proposito de estudio no servira para el beneficio de la nacion.
    Personas de su familia presenta expediente contra la revolucion, por lo tanto, debemos cuidar a la nacion de sus intenciones.
    Le recomendamos que enmiende su vincula con el Estado soberano para poder confiar en las intenciones y proposito de su preparacion en el exterior del pais.
    Sin mas que agregar, se despide ante de Comision Administracion de Divisas (CADIVI)

(Two Truly Enormous Quarter Page Signatures, Obviously Proud and Important Dignitaries)

Now, in my not very good Spanish, here is the (a?) translation.  (After the jump)

BEFORE THE JUMP UPDATE:  Got an email saying that the letter is a hoax.  So, don't go saying "I read this on the internet, so it must be true!"  It may not be.  I'm going to leave it up, though for its truthiness value...

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela              (DATE)
Dear and esteemed compatriot
Have a warm and Revolutionary greeting!

We met to inform you that your request can not be processed and there will be no meeting of minds on this matter. This is because the purpose of [your] study does not serve to benefit the nation.

People of your family have filed [documents] against the revolution, therefore, we must care for the nation [because] of your intentions.

We recommend that you amend your connections with the sovereign state to be able to trust the intentions and purpose of your preparations [for a conference] outside the country.

Without further ado, the Administration Commission (CADIVI) takes its leave from you [says goodbye?].

Now, how long is it before universities in the U.S. start doing the something similar?  I'm not making a partisan point.  Gov. Perry in Texas may well want to require such "permission" for people to attend "outside" conferences already.  But I do wonder if New York is next.

Anyway, that's what state control looks like.  We don't think you are benefitting the nation enough, Sparky!  Get with the program.


Greg Weeks said...

The US government already does it by blocking Cuban academics from presenting papers here.

Mungowitz said...

And Iranian, and other Arab countries. Good point!

Michael Ward said...

This was quite an eye opening post on two accounts. The example of soviet style bureaucrats in this day is enlightening. But I was equally shocked by your implication that Texas too is most likely to suffer the same fate.

Let me assure you that I know of no Texas academic whose travel or voice has been revoked since the New Deal. In fact, I suspect that because academics in Texas is less politically correct, we here have more, not less, freedom to express our views.

Mike Ward
Univ. of Texas at Arlington

Anonymous said...

Gov. Perry in Texas may well want to require such "permission" for people to attend "outside" conferences already.

You really are a hack aren't you? Do you have any evidence for this or is the governor of such a backward state as Texas automatically an overbearing autocrat requiring academics to toe the line?

Mungowitz said...

Prof. Ward, I taught at UT Austin for years, back in the 1980s. It was by far the most politically correct and ideologically repressive place I have ever been. I was accused of "red-baiting" and was told that my being tenure was in question. I wrote about that experience here:

So, with all due respect, sir, I have direct first hand experience that what you say is not true.

Further, there is no question but that Gov. Perry is conducting a campaign, this time from the right, that may have some of the same effects, but on the opposite side.

In short, you and I disagree. That does not make you a bad person. But that does make you wrong...

Michael Ward said...

I stand corrected regarding your prior experience. Your treatment was more than regrettable.

I would suggest, however, that this is not unique to Texas. I know of similar experiences from Illinois and Michigan.

I do not think we disagree on the practice. My 'Liberal' colleagues have tended to be less tolerant of opposing views. A state where their majority in universities is not as large, like Texas, limits the 'tyranny of the majority.'