Paris University Hires Chavista Leader as Professor

Temir Porras, former foreign-policy adviser to Hugo Chávez, released this image to celebrate the 88th birthday of Cuba's longtime totalitarian ruler Fidel Castro. (@temirporras)
Temir Porras, former foreign-policy adviser to Hugo Chávez, released this image to celebrate the 88th birthday of Cuba’s longtime totalitarian ruler Fidel Castro. (@temirporras)

EspañolFrançaisDear Mr. Temir Porras:

Your recent role as a lecturer in one of the most prestigious and expensive universities in Paris, Sciences Po, came as a surprise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s admirable for one to want to share wisdom and diplomatic experience with young students. However, for a person who strongly claims to be a true “Venezuelan patriot,” it’s odd that you would prefer to teach in the comforts of la vie parisienne than in the homeland of Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution.

As a former deputy minister of higher education, you must be aware there is a severe shortage of university professors in your beloved Venezuela. They, like you, left the country to seek opportunities where their monthly salary is not worth US$28 — as it is in Venezuela for university instructors.

You declare yourself to be a Venezuelan patriot, because you “give your life for your country” and defend it from “imperialistic powers.” Nevertheless, you choose to work in one of the most elitist institutions of Europe, and get paid in none other than euros.

You rudely disregard opposition protests and student movements in Venezuela based on their socioeconomic status, but you seem pleased to teach students who come from that same status. If you struggle for a revolution and an egalitarian system, how do those principles lead you to teach in one of the most expensive universities in Paris? Why don’t you teach the beauties of the revolution in the slums of Charallave? Wouldn’t that be a true education revolution?

Given that these students probably haven’t traveled to Venezuela, and probably never will, you have an excellent opportunity to show them exactly why Venezuela is making the headlines. As you preach Latin-American affairs — and the prominent role of Chávez, of course — your classes would be even more interesting if you were to tell them about his true legacy.

For example, you proudly include in your resume that you managed Venezuela’s Sovereign Development Fund. However, you may want to explain to your students where exactly all that money went. At least then they would know more on the matter than the average Venezuelan.

You see, since the oil-royalties fund was supposed to be invested in development projects “for the homeland,” Venezuelan citizens expected to know in detail how those funds would be spent. After all, it’s their money. In democracies, this is called accountability.

The fund’s official site provides shady numbers with no details whatsoever, so you would do well to clarify the financial reporting. That way your students will not get confused about the US$30 billion that “went missing” from the fund you claim to have managed (see here and here).

Also, when you were deputy minister of foreign affairs, an additional US$40 million “disappeared” at Venezuela’s pavilion in the Shanghai Expo 2010. You immediately blamed the media for making this up, but the Venezuelan ambassador in China, Rocío Maneiro — a recognized member of Chavismo — demanded that the Comptroller’s Office start an investigation into you and your links to those missing funds.

As you may know, the lack of transparency in the regime where you worked for more than a decade is no secret. But how can information get to the average Venezuelan anyway, given that the nation’s press is one of the least free on the continent? You may also wish to explain to your students how the Chavista regime has expanded its stranglehold over the media and silenced critical voices.

Your students may have different cultural backgrounds and political perspectives, but they will understand what democracy is, and what it isn’t. They will understand when human rights are protected, and when they are being violated. Just tell them how many political figures are arrested in Venezuela, and how many of them happen to be critical of the regime rather than Chavista supporters.

The fact that the mayor of the capital, who also happens to be a prominent opposition figure, was “virtually kidnapped” by unidentified police officers — with no search warrant — says a lot about the phony democracy Venezuela has. More important, it says a lot about the kind of ideals you defend.

It’s no surprise that the White House decided to sanction Venezuelan high-ranking officials for violating human rights.

You may want Chavista followers to believe that the United States is applying sanctions to Venezuela as a whole. But you are no illiterate; you studied in the best schools of France. You know perfectly well that these sanctions only apply to specific individuals. It’s something that only concerns them, their personal assets abroad — of questionable origins — and other Chavista officials who worry they might be next (including you).

If you continue to write about a supposed US-led air strike on Caracas, remember that according to your government, spreading fear and terror is prohibited by the law. Isn’t that the reason why the regime has kept opposition leader Leopoldo López illegally imprisoned for over a year?

Without doubt, you must be teaching bright students who can think critically. One wonders how they would react if you were to tell them how in Venezuela students like them are in prison, because they dared to criticize the same government you so actively defend.

In the past, you have proclaimed how your wife comes from “revolutionary lineage,” since her brother was arrested and murdered by police officers in the 1990s. But in the 21st century, under your beloved regime, this continues to happen.

Since you apparently feel so strongly about extrajudicial executions, maybe you should talk to your students about the murders of Bassil Da Costa, Roberto Redman, and Genesis Carmona. Or were they just “asshole snobs,” as you politely label the student movement in your personal blog? Would you care to explain why your brother-in-law’s murder is more valuable than the ones we see today? Or are these murders not convenient for your revolutionary tale?

You claim that Chávez was the best thing that could have ever happened to Venezuela. Then live it. Go to your homeland, and live up to your ideals, not from the comforts of the political elite, but from the grassroots in the slums of Caracas.

Live firsthand the poverty, insecurity, and misery Venezuelans are experiencing under Chavismo. Wait in line to buy toilet paper. Earn a true salary of a Venezuelan lecturer. Try to live a normal life without bodyguards, and see what it is like to feel that your life may end any minute due to criminality.

Maybe then you will know what the real “Venezuelan patriots” — as you define them — actually go through.

Update: 1 p.m. EDT, April 22, 2015.

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