Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | June 3, 2010

Mockus and Chavez are sitting at a table

A blogger walks into a bar. Chavez and Mockus are sitting at a table.

The elections in Colombia came and went, and no surprises, there will be a second round, scheduled for June 20. Juan Manuel Santos and Antanas Mockus will be the two names on the ballot, no surprise there either. What will be the surprise is—if Antanas Mockus wins.

I’ve been hearing about Mockus’s difficulty in expressing himself. He often rambles an answer, then returns to it with a, What-I-meant-was. This incoherency came out clear in some answers he gave to a Q & A with The Washington Post. The Post must have been on deadline and Mockus didn’t get to revise his answers.

Then, I came across the words of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez froze diplomatic relations with Colombia. He has said relations will not be “normalized” between the two countries until a new president is in power in Colombia—and he has made it clear he has differences with Santos, the favorite to win.

(The normalcy is that Venezuela is still one of Colombia’s largest trading partners. Colombia relies on Venezuela for a place to sell its exports, food and car parts. And Venezuela relies on Colombia for food—what is more important than that?)

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I’m at a bar and my mind races, Mockus and Chavez are sitting at a table  …  (I have completely taken words out of context here—though the quotations indicate those were the exact words spoken.)

Chavez: I express unity with the people of Colombia, the “people of Bolivar, because Bolivar is also the father of Colombia.” I hope the next Colombian president “will be a person to talk with and reach at minimum an agreement of respect.”

Mockus: “My philosophy is not to stop things. Unless there’s a signal that something is unproductive, what is operating (now) continues, though there may be adjustments.”

Chavez: Colombians must “stop war of aggression against other peoples” and to work for “peace and integration in South America, in this new America, in this new world.”

Mockus: “I am not a good negotiator, first. People have to know that I stick strongly to principles and normal procedures. I (understand) clearly that I have to work under the rules. I cannot transgress the constitution for the sake of a peace process.”

Mockus is angry. He gets up on the table, pulls down his pants and exposes his tush to Chavez.

Mockus: “A very strong emotion, a very complex emotion generated a drive—what I did, what is called in English, mooning. When I was mooning …I felt two extreme feelings, one that I was giving myself to (him). I was allowing (him) to pressure me, but on the other side it was the extreme refusal.

It’s perhaps a pedagogical drive. When I use symbols, it’s because of despair in communicating ideas, in the despair (of trying) to change behavior.”

You will say to me—this makes no sense. My point exactly. Who can translate what these two say to the world, much less to each other?

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