Thursday, 2 January 2014

Understanding Venezuela for foreigners: the Minister of Information

Querida Delcy Rodríguez, "camarada": este post será enviado a un montón de organizaciones internacionales. Hay algo que se llama "estado de derecho". Eso incluye la prohibición a empleados como tú de abusar de información del Estado - que no es lo mismo que gobierno - con fines políticos.

The Venezuela minister of Information, Delcy Rodríguez, just tweeted a "list of shame" with the names of opposition-minded people who travelled abroad for Christmas, the date of departure and the destination. Ms Rodríguez wrote "Don't miss the list of foreign holiday destinations for opposition leaders". Then she added the list including mostly elected politicians in local elections but also a regime-critical journalist.

Venezuelans abroad have taken countless pictures of the Boligarchs, as we call the state oligarchs pretending to be revolutionaries, abroad. One example is this of the Attorney General getting out of at a posh shop in Paris or Chávez's daughter travelling all around the world or another of communist deputies full of purchases in a gringo shopping centre, in the middle of the Evil Evil Empire. But those pictures are taken by some of the over 1 million Venezuelan expats. What this minister is doing is showing a list that was obviously obtained from the security services.

It is hard for a foreigner to get a real picture of what Venezuela's communicational landscape is like if she doesn't know what information the average Venezuelan in the average Venezuelan city can get. The average Venezuelan city is not Caracas, Valencia or Maracaibo: more than half of Venezuela lives in such cities as Punto Fijo, Charallave, El Tocuyo, Guacara, El Tigre. The fact Venezuela is a highly urbanized country does not mean Caracas but Punto Fijo. Less than 40% of Venezuelans have Internet connection and Internet speeds in Venezuela are among the lowest on Earth. We can envy Nigerians or Malians for the Internet speed they enjoy. Globovisión is now a lame duck and the "many" private TV and radio channels don't dare to show more than baseball, soap operas and the like. If you speak Spanish, you can listen for a couple of minutes - or more if you can - to the current state radio or TV. When I was a child, state radio and TV had mostly educational programmes. Sure enough, we still have badly founded opposition-minded a country where hardly anyone reads. Try to find El Universal outside the very centre of Punto Fijo or Guacara.

Now state TV and radio have reached a level of brainwashing as you wouldn't have seen in Soviet Russia. And that's funny because Venezuela still doesn't have a form of socialism. Not that I would defend socialism - I would only defend pluralism of ideas and a real multi-party system with real competition and a separation of powers. Venezuela simply has a pseudo-communist-led, very dysfunctional Malawi-related form of petro-feudalism with no rule of law.
And yeah, here I put the destinations according to the list the minister used based on immigration data only state employees can have:

What's the problem, Deisy? Only Boligarchs can travel around?

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