Thugs and their Thuggish Thug Things


Probably one of the more difficult things about my job is communicating to a First World audience that unmistakable taste of sheer thuggishness the Chávez government leaves in your mouth. There are certain taken-for-granted understandings an audience has about just what a government is and how far it might go in seeking its goals that precludes, for a lot of people, any forthright appreciation of chavismo’s wholesale abandonment of minimal standards of decency and, well, not even so much being governed by the rule of law as much as just paying lip service to being governed by the rule of law.

Because, let’s face it, when you’re watching an illegally recorded tape and then maliciously edited tape playing on La Hojilla on the main state-owned TV channel, what you’re looking at is a government telling you, as loudly and clearly as it knows how, that it doesn’t even feel bound to pretend like it cares a shit what the law says, so long as it can get political advantage from it.

This refusal to put daylight between itself and its own thuggishness, even for P.R. purposes, really fascinates me. And it really frustrates me, as a writer, because I find that people have either been to Venezuela and so grasp it intuitively, al rompe, with no need for further elaboration, or just can’t begin to fathom it at all.

So my column this morning on the International Herald Tribune’s blog tries to chip away at that wall of misunderstanding. I went for the subtle, indirect route here, trying to get at this feeling by leaning on the Tweet-hacking angle.

You tell me how you think I did.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Excellent report.
    It should give a new insight to those that don’t live in Venezuela.
    It will be interesting to see any comments from the brain dead leftists.

    These media attacks are just going to get worse as his health deteriorates further & the elections get closer.

    All sorts of dirty tricks are in the offing. The threat level for news reporters, TV stations, radio stations, bloggers & anyone else who has a criticism of the government will rise the closer we get to October.

  2. Great post Quico! I can only hope this post gives you (and, indirectly, me) the credibility to get our Twitter accounts hacked. Because, so far, nanay mi pana. I mean, who do I have to insult around here to get hacked? 🙂

  3. excellent quico… great report. now i wonder why @twitter is doing nothing al respecto???
    >:( 15 minutes after newsweek’s account was attacked the honchos @twitter were on the case. even though the inmediate reaction and outrage backfires in many cases, i for one confess to have fallen for a minute or two for JV leóns rants against MCM. ( with him it’s iffy) so, i ask myselfwill we have to recruit some flesh and blood anorexic tattoed and pierced über hacker lisbeth salander-like from the millenium trilogy to protect us from big bad brother hugo and his cubans?

  4. sorry for the typos et al.. typing with one hand while eating a precious arepa ( just found some harina juana last friday) and my precious coffee ( just found 1 kg last saturday) with the other.
    i know you guys will understand…

  5. That’s a great article Quico.

    What I don’t understand, is how no one in the opposition or oppo affiliated groups hasn’t thought of/been able to push a back a little on the digital front. I’m not advocating hacking ppl’s twitter, which is ultimately counterproductive, but rather collecting documents and other incriminating evidence through either whistleblowers or other means.

    The e-mail that was sent to Milagro Socorro is a point in case. We all suspect stuff like that Cuban Hackathon happens with gov sponsoship, but that e-mail is proof. How many other “ollas podridas” like the Fondo Chino docs are just lying around online?

    • It isn’t that there aren’t hackers on the other side, it’s that unlike the chavistas, the oppos aren’t in it just for the PR value. Telling people what has been found so far is pretty useless at this point since the chavistas will simply claim it was a fabrication of the empire and there will be little to prove otherwise.

      And in unrelated news: do you know what is the fun thing about installing keyloggers in chavista laptops, stealing the passwords for their Swiss bank accounts, then using this info to make “anonymous donations” to international charitable organizations? They can’t tell anyone about it because “it’s ridiculous to claim that real chavistas have millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts”? Ladron que roba a ladron, and all that.

  6. The article Quico wrote helps expose Chavez to the International community.Every bit helps.It shows how creative Chavez can be in his thugishness.

  7. So, the lesson is chavista hackers are doing more harm than good. By further awakening
    and irritating the opposition grows stronger. I really like that ending.
    Sad that nobody in government, police, speaks out, about the lawbreaking by these
    chavista,cuban hackers. Does anyone ever think of arresting them?
    (If pro Chavez accounts were hacked -they would be arrested..)

  8. Hasta cuando Abigail…
    Its a war, and like they say, in love and war, everything goes….

    The opposition, -I would rather like calling it Resistance- , if it is serious about getting back the control of the nation, and kicking out he cuban invasion, should, fight back on the digital front with force.

    Me asombra la inocencia! agaist Cuba, which is known in intelligence circles for having a strong electronic warfare/intelligence apparatus.

    Information is power.

  9. I think you did fine, Quico. What’s happening to Twitter eventually happens to all mass media – they get inundated with garbage. They require of us more skepticism to pick out the bits that mean anything. Keep plugging away. Chavismo is so self-contradictory that it blends in with all the other scams, while your clear quiet messages still get through.

    My own initial search for Vz info in 2002 purposely focused on the most official “unbiased” Chavismo website I could find. I opted to go linger over Golinger and one of her authoritative articles about the imminent invasion of Vz by the Yanks. It proved a farce within 48 hours, saving me a lot of research. As you say, Chavismo doesn’t care at all about any kind of truth. I think that will eventually undo him.

    Stick to it – and stick it to ’em.

    Best Regards,

  10. This brings back the discussion about whether we have a dictatorship or not. It is not a traditional dictatorship, but the 21st version of it. Call it the “dictadura del siglo XXI” Like in the fable of the boiling frog, we have been simmered for years in a sauce of repeated reticent abuses and today, after 13 years we are still not convinced this thing we have constitutes a dictatorship. On the mean time we see how the fear of expressing ideas is here to stay, we witness the grotesque competition to see who sucks up the most to the great leader, we see tens of political prisoners and still hesitate on whether we should call them so because some have “rabo ‘e paja”, and the list goes on and on. But yes, this is not quite a dictatorship. Not yet anyway. We are a confused society.

  11. I have a single query, namely, would a regime with even the remotest possibility of losing the next election be as ‘in-your-face’ as this at this stage of the game?

    • Chavez has always used the “in your face’ bluff tactic and sometimes it backfires
      on him -ex. Uribe called him out constantly, and Garcia of Peru-made joke about his
      behavior.Lest we forget-the King had a comment…

  12. Great perspective. Thank you. And now for the catharsis part: I am outraged by the assault on basic civil rights, I am embarassed that much of the extranjero “left” (emphasis on “much”) is prepared to be willfully blind if they are not vocally supporting this disaster of a government, and I despair that as long as a critical mass of venezuelans is dependent on the government for so much, directly or indirectly, needed to get them through their increasingly difficult days (be it a job, a subsidy, a needed connection to medical treatment, a favour, etc etc.), and as long as oil is the lifeblood of this government, civil rights for most people is going to take a back seat to (not trivial) concerns like, ‘where am I going to find milk today’, and people will continue be critical in their homes, and go to the opposition marches on the opposition march days, and go to the officialismo marches on the officialismo march days so they can have their faces noted as “present”. And honestly, if I had to support my family in this mess, I don’t know if I would be a hero either. Thanks for asking.

  13. That’s the only genuinely “Revolutionary” thing about the Bolivarian “Revolutionary” government.

    And it’s not a compliment, nor it should be among people who at least pretend to be civil towards others. Revolutionary means, since the time of the Jacobins, means that anything goes. From basic thuggery to atrocities.

  14. I think the thugs control Chavez not the other way around. He lets anyone who can help along his dream of being the Comandante of Latin America do what they want no matter how much they steal. All he has created is big ass Mexican Standoff between the Thug Gangs, the Army, the corrupt politicians, the opposition and the poor Venezuelans, in who’s name all this is being done. Also, lets not forget the narcos and petroleros involved with most all of the above!

  15. Just think of any postscript George Orwell could have written on his “1984” had he been aware of the “Hack a Mole” possibilities.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here