“Uncritical loyalty to the USSR happens to be the current orthodoxy, and where the supposed interests of the USSR are involved they are willing to tolerate not only censorship but the deliberate falsification of history.”
-George Orwell, Proposed Preface to ‘Animal Farm’
Quico says: I usually suppress the urge to comment on whatever eccentricities come out of Chávez’s mouth. The aggravation is not usually worth the payoff. But now and then, the guy blurts out things so bizarre, so blithely truculent, so aggressively Orwellian, I have to make an exception.
Yesterday, Chávez gave us his latest re-interpretation of the April 2002 crisis. Those crazy few days were always likely to give rise to all sorts of official mythologizing. With each passing year, the chavista version gets more fanciful, more epic, more detached from the evidence in the public domain, to the point that, by now, parts of it are straightforward reversals of what we know happened.
I have in mind, specifically, Chávez’s contention yesterday that “the 19 people who died on April 11th died for me, they are martyrs who gave their lives to allow me to keep on living.”
Now, this is a lie. But, when you think about it, it’s not a usual kind of lie. It is a Big Lie. By that, I mean that it’s a lie that flags itself as a lie, that flaunts the liar’s power to speak it without consequences. It’s a lie that doesn’t so much conceal the truth as reverse it. And not some obscure truth, but an extremely public, perfectly plain, fully established truth about the key moment in the key event of our contemporary history.
Because we know that there were deaths on both sides on April 11th, 2002 – and deaths on no side at all as well, since some victims were just bystanders. We know that Chavez continued to talk, on cadena nacional, for two hours as the shooting went on just outside Miraflores. We know a uniformed military officer kept passing notes to him, throughout his speech, containing ongoing casualty reports. We know he never paused to do anything to stop the massacre. We know he tried to silence the coverage of what was happening just outside his door.
Not content with his total control of the state, Chavez now wants enabling powers to rewrite the past as well. This ploy to appropriate the sacrifice of those who died trying to prevent him from becoming the autocrat he has since become constitutes a staggering falsification of history, a final slap in the face for the families of the victims, a grotesque insult to the memory of those who died trying to preserve the freedoms his government has steadfastly denied.
And yet, as time goes on, as the Official Story is repeated and embellished and enshrined in schoolbooks and official lore, can we really doubt that the next generation of schoolchildren will grow up believing, as a simple matter of fact, that Jorge Tortoza was a martyr of the revolution?
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