We also have compulsory government advertising on TV here…


…it’s just ever so slightly different in tone from what you get in Venezuela:

Just to be clear: governments do of course have a legitimate need to communicate with the people on certain issues now and then. In proper democracies, that communication is purely informational, scrupulously apolitical, and unambiguously about the thing it purports to be about.

Contrast that with chavismo’s understanding of “an institutional message”:


  1. This and the gigantic billboards on buildings like PDVSA, etc. When I try to explain it to my friends here I just say: imagine a huge photo of Zapatero (or now Rajoy) hanging outside a government building.

    It’s completely ridiculous and people have allowed these things to happen and little by little they just do whatever they please, fuck the law.

  2. You know, Latin America has really gotten past the point where this stuff even merits complaint. I mean, thank you Quico for fighting the good fight but some days I really feel that we will never have free societies in Latin America simply because most of our compatriots don’t even understand what democracy is. Most Venezuelans see nothing wrong with using national TV for electioneering and the idea that public TV is public and not the current administration’s mouthpiece is as alien a concept as breathing through your ears. Cadenas are considered a fact of life and not the perversion that they are. I find it that much sadder simply because, as a journalist trained in the States, we don’t really have an idea of what freedom of speech is or how to defend it.

    Honestly, any complaint will fall on deaf ears or worse receive a smirk from officialdom. I’m starting to think that the only way for change to occur in places like Venezuela is to make it happen, by any means necessary. We can write angry, critical tracts but if these only get limited readership or worse are simply ignored (what percentage of society is fully literate and understands what they actually read?) it really limits the impact of ‘normal’ avenues of change.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more!! Reglar avenues of change are only valid on societies with regular or at least basic understanding of democratic principles, but maybe the worst harm of these 14 years of chavismo has been the undermining and extermination of the democratic system foundations. If you don’t have an the basic “intrinsic reasoning” of the system, how could you ever realice what’s wrong? Even worse, how could you start changing that? I agree with Capriles on the imperative need of re-education to start everything from zero, but it will take another generation to see results, just like took Chavez to get the results that they expected with propaganda instead of education to establish their status quo. I am amazed by the extension and deepnees of these messages. Now I believe we need an imperative model of government where the masses are treated like sheep nto a decent state of mind until they would be able again to think for themselves. Democracy is an utopic term for Venezuela.

      • It’s not just chavismo. The one example of a state channel that is apolitical, and even pushes back against the government, is in Chile. But it’s also full of insufferable, commercial crap that undermines the idea that it’s a public good. It’s like people expect either commercial garbage or politicized garbage. It’s hard to make room for people who really respect democracy. I suspect that the ebb and flow to and from places like Canada will make a difference, though.

        • Hopefully it will. The reason things like this happen and continue to happen is that the vast majority of citizens don’t ‘get’ democracy. This is much different from saying they don’t deserve democracy or that we’re not ‘ready’ for democracy. It also crosses class boundaries in that the oligarchs/wealthy/whatever you wanna call them are also just as ignorant of the basic tenets of democracy as are the poor. The idea of a representative government with limits to its power is an absurd concept in Latin America. Individuals don’t have rights, masses do and the rights you have are those which you are able to secure through force, not through guarantees. Will this change on O7? Maybe, maybe not. Hopefully the face in Miraflores will change, and thats a good start.

    • the answer is economic growth my friend; strong institutions are a luxury poor countries cannot afford; when material well-being rises enough people will start to understand and appreciate democracy, the rule of law, separation of powers, and all those fancy things we admire in more advanced societies. That is why I like Capriles’ message. He does not speak about democracy and all that. His message centers on jobs, security and reconciliation. That is exactly what the country needs.

      • Capriles above all emphasizes EDUCATION. Without an adequately educated electorate, which knows their rights and Government obligations, one cannot have a functioning democracy of the type known in the Developed World.

        • I don’t disagree about the importance of education, but it is at most a necessary condition for development. There are many examples of educated societies that have not become functioning democracies (the USSR, the Weimar republic). Democracy is about decentralization of power, not about education. If power is centralized you will see all the vices of autocratic regimes even among highly educated people. Economic prosperity can reduce inequality eventually (Kuznet’s curve), and a less unequal society is one where political power is more uniformly distributed and where democratic institutions become relevant and valued.

  3. “it will take another generation to see results”

    Fully agree. Spraying propaganda like a wild banshee and allowing one’s country to fray badly is the easy part. Doesn’t take long for chaos to mount. Repairing the damage, both to the infrastructure, let alone to people’s lives, will take a very long period of time, moreover when democracy was never strong pre-Chávez.

  4. “Usted no se va comandante”. One doesn’t cease to be outraged by the official goverment propaganda promoting the emperor, although it is everywhere.

  5. (psst!…from the home of the Sponsorship Scandal that all but destroyed the longest governing party in Canada!) But yes, I grant it, 90% of the time, its not like that here. Well, 70% of the time.

  6. Venezuelans have been bombarded by the bully behavior of the Government for 14 years!and in all fronts! So when people compare the every day problems that they have with the illegal use of propaganda, they need to make a decision…do I worry about where should I get the milk, oil toilet paper or that that the comandante is now el corazon venezolano?

    So, this behavior is link to economic growth…however education is the link between the resources that allow economic growth (excremento del diablo) and trully economic growth…maybe with a good education system Venezuelans will finally get that no government will solve their problems if they are not willing to solve the problems themselves…and this bull shit of corazon venezolano campaign will be allowed!

    • “maybe with a good education system Venezuelans will finally get that no government will solve their problems if they are not willing to solve the problems themselves…”

      agree, María. education in Vzla needs more elements of critical thinking. At the basic adult literacy level, it’s not enough to teach people how to read; they should also be expected to comprehend what they’re reading, and even argue pro and con — freely with no propaganda.

      if Capriles wins, then it means that the majority of Venezuelans realize that his offer is superior to the free give-aways of the Chávez government. For Capriles has stated (assuming his statements will translate into reality, post elections) that “we give you the materials; you build/renovate your own house.” This, for me is a win-win, during a period of political and economic transition in Venezuela. It is a (too) generous offer from the government, and it gets people motivated to create their own housing, within the allotted materials offered. That’s a superior direction than having a population simply receive hand-outs, in exchange for political loyalty and serfdom (as in no titles to land grants). It’s also a way to generate national production of cabillas, etc., partially paid for by the government, and provide jobs in this industry.

      But maybe I’m just looking at this too simplistically, economic turnovers normally providing digestive issuies.

      • “At the basic adult literacy level, it’s not enough to teach people how to read; they should also be expected to comprehend what they’re reading, and even argue pro and con — freely with no propaganda.”

        Isn’t the choice (or, in fact, production (how to embed links in comments? wikipedia dot org/wiki/Textbook)) of reading material itself an act of propaganda?

        • Answer:
          If the choice of reading material, say for Venezuela, draws attention to a sea of red shirts, the word revolution, how great Papi Chávez is, and the differences between now (El Dorado) and then (nihilism), then, yes, this is overt propaganda.

          If the choice of reading material makes no reference to overt political symbols, then I’d say the choice is merely that of the architect of the reading program, or the appointed teachers, preferably trained andrologists.

      • Syd, you said it very clear…critical thinking is the key! We have to teach our kids/students to critically evaluate the pro and con of the information that it is presented to them…However this is very difficult to grasp for most people…I have be a science teacher for 20 years at the University level at USA (the imperio) and I am still surprise how only few students have good critical thinking skills…so I guess this is a global problem that is more accentuated in countries like Venezuela…were the message that has been sent for more that a decade is ” do not worry… comandante presidente will solve your problems…he just needs a little more of time”

        • A real problem is that most non critical thinkers think of themselves as critical thinkers, or at least see no reason to think that the thinking of others is any better than their own. This is also seen in other developmental stages, be they cognitive, moral, etc.

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