Disinformation war in Venezuela
Since Maduro followed through with orders from his Cuban handlers, to send heavily armed thugs and Venezuela's National Guard to kill, torture, terrorise, and arrest people participating protests in Venezuela, a different battle has been raging. A disinformation war of sorts, where we have the official BS aired in places like the New York Times or The Guardian, and then, well, reality, published pretty much every else by casual observers, reputed human rights NGOs [link, link, link], multilaterals, democrats from around the region, governments, The Church, music legends, independent media [link, link], etc., etc., etc.
Maduro and his Cuban handlers are not about to take the absolute unmasking of the chavista revolution sitting idle. There's far too much money at stake. Perhaps Maduro said it best the other day, when he referred to 18 nations in the region whose "stability" (whatever that means in chavista speak) depended on Venezuela. It'd be easy to come up with a list of nations, specially in the Caribbean, whose economies would be negatively impacted if Venezuela were to shut the spigot tomorrow. A chavista mouthpiece, infamous Minister of Housing Ricardo Molina, said, from Cuba of course, that there were two Venezuelas. In that, he is absolutely right. Indeed there are two Venezuelas: the imaginary one that exists only in chavismo's ethereal world, and the other one. There's no doubt, or disagreement about that. Maduro "lives" in a Venezuela where everything is rosy. So do his henchmen and cronies. Every other one of the 29 million Venezuelans, lives in a Venezuela of scarcity, uncontrolled crime, unemployment, abuse, corruption, uncontrolled inflation, crumbling infrastructure, and a long list of etceteras. I think one example will suffice to illustrate this point: in chavismo's world, Hugo Chavez was "infected with a brutal and aggressive cancer in 2011"; in the real world, well, you get the point.
So while Maduro and the MUD sit through a dialogue meant to take Venezuela out of its current predicament (good luck with that), a fierce disinformation war is going on, one in which no one, nowhere, will be able to mediate in. One in which the two "warring parties" (chavismo and reality) are so at odds with each other that reconciliation is just unthinkable. For the deranged, as for religious fanatics which is what chavismo amounts to, can't be convinced, are unwilling to be convinced, in fact, they take any word different from their dogma as an insult, and therefore the two positions are irreconcilable. The Middle East is a good example.
Images and videos of Maduro's National Guard viciously beating a harmless, partly disabled woman, have shocked the world. Similarly, account of an arrested young student being sodomised with a rifle, or peaceful protesters having been shot in the head and killed, continue to shake the disinterested about Venezuela's reality. So to you, reading this post, such acts of brutal repression have no place in civilized society, and those who execute them should be prosecuted without delay. But Maduro see things differently, you see. For him, what was done to Marvinia was totally fine. Marvinia's attempt to reason with the National Guards that were attacking people in her neighbourhood was an affront that could only be dealt with in the way it was dealt with. That's it, end of. Any behaviour that departs from chavismo's dogmas is an assault on its system of beliefs. There's no possible dialogue about it, the one going is just for show, so that the world can see that chavismo "means well". Dialogue in 2002 - 2003 left Venezuela with a wound that hasn't healed yet, and 12 years to the day when 19 people were killed in downtown Caracas, we are still to hear results of the previously assembled "truth commission".
Maduro controls the National Guard. Maduro controls the thuggish colectivos (in reality regime-sponsored paramilitaries) that are terrorizing protesters with absolute impunity. In fact, notice Maduro's priorities and sense of relevance: a representative of paramilitaries was sitting last night in that charade of a dialogue, but no student representative was sitting there. Maduro controls the judiciary, which has been extremely busy removing and jailing on trumped charges democratically elected officials. If Maduro was sincere about his "dialogue" he could have granted something: a release of the wrongly imprisoned, a call to quarter his thugs, an order to reverse illegal measure to strip a congresswoman of her post, there's a list of things he could have done. Alas Maduro didn't. For one simple reason: his "reality" is at odds with reality. None of the things asked of him are even worthy of consideration, for none of those issues exist in chavismo's flat earth. Freedom for political prisoners sounds a lot different than freedom for "fascists, coup-plotting, financed by international drug trafficking cartels, pawns of Uncle Sam", which is more or less what Maduro thinks of Leopoldo Lopez, just to give one example. Disarming paramilitaries looks a lot different than undoing "revolutionary attempts to build democracy from the ground up by supporting grass roots movements", which is how Maduro sees his heavily armed colectivos.
And that's the case about tangible stuff, such as imprisoned people, tortured people, killed people, with real names, and real lives, with real families, locked in real jails. Imagine when we get to visions, cosmovisions, belief systems, morals and so on. There's no possible entente, when the two parties at the table have such a vastly different understanding of terms, and, borrowing from Chavez, cosmovisions. It's anthropologically impossible. So we shall continue reading, on the one hand, members of the Islington set like Seumas Milne giving us chavismo's gospel (and praised along the way by members of same tribe), while on the other we will witness an ever progressing and more dramatic deterioration of life conditions in Venezuela, which will bring wholesale suffering to the 29 million Venezuelans that aren't part of Maduro's Potemkin village.
Molina's claim of "two Venezuelas" can be extrapolated to almost any other issue. The official chavista line is to drag this to the old Left v Right dilemma, and is desperately trying to do so, though is anything but. At its most basic, it boils down to reality versus fiction, facts versus beliefs, legal versus illegal, democracy versus kleptocratic dictatorship, accountability versus impunity, rule of law versus whimsical regime diktats, respect to inalienable human rights versus not, flat earth versus blue planet.
Reality is the first victim in this disinformation war. For instance, documents that expose rampant corruption published in this site have no place in chavista universe. It never happened. If forced, by public outcry, to admit that corruption is one of the main causes of Venezuela's misery, chavistas will retort by attacking the messenger, or as they have done, censoring this website in Venezuela. What is certain is that in chavismo's sprawling propaganda apparatus criticism is mostly absent. I have been told that independent media lost another outlet recently: El Universal has allegedly been acquired by chavismo's cronies (I hear Samark Lopez put pen to paper representing chavismo), and it now joins Cadena Capriles, Globovision, El Nacional, Venevision, and Televen. Soon there will be almost universal uniformity of "information" inside Venezuela. Communicational hegemony.
Abroad the debate will go on between a small clique of unrepresentative and largely discredited communism nostalgics, and everyone else, ergo no debate but more of a settled matter. It is worth mentioning that the former have failed to win hearts and minds in their own constituencies, their racist views confined to pockets of radicalism, present, though equally derided, in all societies. To conclude, to those looking for information about Venezuela, the first question needs to be: what's the local fanatic saying? Reality is likely to be found on the other side of the spectrum. In the meantime, this site will continue showing what chavismo doesn't want the world to see.