What will the new Culture Law bring?

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Thanks to the new Culture Law, this could be the only acceptable art in the future
Thanks to the new Culture Law, this could be the only acceptable art in the near future

During yesterday’s infamous session at the National Assembly, Chavismo also approved the highly controversial Organic Culture Law.

Rojo rojito culture has already done serious damage over the years, but this legislation could make it much worse.

The state and the “popular power” will be in charge of all culture-related matters, meaning an end of all private initiatives.

The law also limits the definition of culture: its emphasis will be placed on Venezuelan and Latin American culture, with special attention in what they call “decolonization thinking”.

The other creation of this law is the National Culture Fund, in which all private companies with earnings over 20,000 tributary units (about 2,140,000 Bs.F) will have to contribute 1% of their net earnings. As the existing public system was already one complicated mess (which I described in this related post back in February), Chavismo’s solution is to simply place a higher financial burden on the private sector.

As Juan and his colleagues have pointed out, introducing sharp tax rises inside seemingly harmless legislation (who can be against a law for culture, in principle?) is a typical trick of chavismo. Often, they’re assessed on gross revenue, not earnings, helping push loss-making firms into insolvency and wrecking our economy.

Eight years since its introduction, the legislation was recently fast-tracked by the government with a series of “public consultations”. However, it looks like those meetings were useless as the legislation was drastically changed just before his final vote.

Make no mistake: the Culture Law brings nothing more than red censorship and repression to the Venezuelan arts. This won’t help our culture at all. It will crush it.

1 COMMENT

  1. And yet again, once more, nothing, absolutely nothing, will happen. Cuba is becoming our destiny, so let’s see what the hell we’ll do.

    • The answer is “nothing”. Sad but, true.
      We are still waiting on Capriles or anyone else to do something. Not us, the people.

  2. Aside from the ideological indoctrination side of the Law , there is a second purpose , one it shares with many other laws which provide for special contributions to be paid to special semi independent committees or commissions, from the income of private business activities , and that is to provide a new venue for the party faithful to engage in graft , to enjoy special benefits from ‘do nothing’ ornamental jobs or worthless consulting contracts !! During the CAP II period there was a policy to elliminate all special semi official comissions because how they simply served as sinecures for the benefit of the political clients of the ruling party . In this regime these commissions and special contributions have multiplied because there is a big appetite in regime circles for this kind of benefits.

    • Thanks for this post, Gustavo. It’s hard to keep up with the “legislative” end of our Legislature amidst all the prostitution rings and drug fueled orgies.

  3. As far as I have seen in several media outlets, the contribution is on net earnings and doesn’t affect all private companies, but only those with earnings over 20000 tributary units (about 2140000 BsF). It’s true, of course, that it’s practically impossible to access the real content of the law and even of the project (not even the Asamblea page shows it), but as recently as yesterday the version Fedecamaras referred to included those numbers: http://aldiavenezuela.microjuris.com/2013/08/13/fedecamaras-solicitara-que-se-reconsidere-el-proyecto-de-ley-de-la-cultura/
    Not that this makes a big difference, because it’s all part of the gradual annihilation of civil society; but it’s better to get the facts right to avoid feeding the trolls.

        • Great find, Kepler! I like the last bit about the Haitian poet who says that you can’t compare a Latin American democracy to a European one. That sort of logic basically invalidates things like universal human rights. As for the culture law just the fact that they’re essentially defining what culture is creates ‘state-approved’ culture and ‘everything else’. Not that it wasn’t going on for years but now it’s official.

        • She quickly found out this wasn’t a socialism but a dictatorship with the face of Chavez everywhere.

          I am waiting for when the Chavistas start to ban and burn “imperialist” books, in big events, with music and people dancing around the big bonfire like they need an exorcism. This is what’s coming after this law I presume.

          • “I do not need luxury, but a state that can not even produce functioning doors and locks, already seems weak to me.” … this writing have great quotes such as that one, they can only come from the pragmatic views of a German, it’s funny but so tragic it’s Venezuela she is talking about. :/

          • Another GREAT quote …
            When the departing poet, Xóchil Schütz, was baffled by the two-faced behaviour of one of the festival’s young assistants, who earlier tried to scam Xóchil on the exchange rate, in a private transaction, a fellow nearby offered an explanation:

            The [young festival assistant, who] had upon my arrival my money so bad substitute me, hugged me goodbye at the airport and told me intimately, we would absolutely stay in touch. I’m baffled. If she has a guilty conscience? Or simply no wrongdoing? I do not know. Later, someone will say, “Neither. She is spoiled. The political system it has so deformed that she is accustomed to pretend. “

            WOW.

          • I thought the SAME thing! They figured they had selected someone with indigenous sympathies. Como que les salió el tiro por la culata.
            Maybe next time, they will select someone named Maya. Lots more of those to choose from, especially if by then, they’ll have crafted un pequeño interrogatorio preliminar.

            “A Ud. le gusta Chávez? Si o No.”

          • In defense of chavismo, you would think if that there was a perfect candidate for a German PSF is an ethnic German named Xóchil.

          • I don’t know…most German PSFs I have met have very Germanic names and come from Eastern Germany, never made the transition or longed for those time when the life of others was theirs. My impression is there are more French PSF per capita.

            For some reason a lot of Germans these days have a problem with a country where some people talk about a movement that will last for 1000 years and adore someone called “Leader” or “Supreme Commandant”, specially if that someone was a former military and coup monger claiming to be a painter.

        • Wow. Thanks, Kep. This poet has sharpshooter vision. Even though the googletranslate is not the best, it’s enough for the gist.

      • Her German is really well written, not surprising for a poet I suppose.

        I hadn’t heard the word “Poesie” before, not sure what the difference between “Poesie” and “Dichtung” are.

        • Dichtung sounds more like Achtung, not nearly as inviting a word as Poesie, or so I think. Just google translated Dichtung; it’s one of several options, including Poesie.

        • Here you go:

          Dichtung und Poesie:
          Dichtung ist eine spezielle deutsche Wortbildung gegenüber dem international gebräuchlichem Begriff “Poesie”, mit der eine leichte Verlagerung des Blickpunktes verbunden ist: Poesie ist, so die poetologische Theorie, der Bereich der poetischen Gattungen. Das Wort Dichtung bezeichnet daneben auch das literarische Produkt und den Produktionsprozess, dem es sich verdankt, das Dichten (von mhd. ti[c]hten für “schaffen, erdenken, aussinnen, anordnen”, aus lat. dictare “diktieren, aufsetzen, abfassen”; verbreitet und nicht ohne Auswirkung auf die Bedeutungsentwicklung ist dagegen die vulgäretymologische Ableitung von dicht, durch die die Vorstellung einer Verdichtung der Aussage evoziert wird). Dichtung wird dabei sowohl im weiteren Sinn auf Literatur mit künstlerischem Anspruch überhaupt, die so genannte schöne Literatur, bezogen, als auch im engeren Sinn auf in Verse gegliederte, in sogenannter gebundener Sprache abgefasste Texte, wozu im Gegensatz zur prosaischen Belletristik metrische, rhythmische, in freien Rhythmen oder freien Versen der Modernen Poesie abgefasste, strophige und strophenlose, gereimte und nicht gereimte Texte gleichermaßen zählen. Beide Verwendungen des Begriff Dichtung heben ab auf die Künstlichkeit, die Erfindung des Gedichteten wenn nicht Erdichteten. Man nennt auch die schwierigen Lyrikübersetzungen oft Nachdichtung. Im übertragenen Sinn wird auch in der Musik von symphonischer Dichtung oder Tondichtung gesprochen. Anders als Poesie bezeichnet Dichtung nicht die besondere poetische Stimmung oder den poetischen Ausdruck eines Kunstwerks oder einer Situation in der Natur.

          Ok Kepler, go for it and translate it. Let’s see if your German is good enough (just kidding, but I dare say one’s level of German has to be pretty strong to understand this). And no, Google translate won’t cut it!

    • Good find, Kepler. Google Translate was needed. Mein Deutsch ist kaput. Judging from her response, those who go to Venezuela with an open mind can see things. Interesting how she could see connections between present-day Venezuela and certain aspects of the German past. I wonder how many PSF visit Venezuela and return disillusioned to their home countries. I would guess that as PSF already have ideological blinders, they return from Venezuela just as enamored of Chavismo as before their visit.

      I wonder how much circulation her article will have in Germany.

      Coincidentally, my sister and her German-born husband recently visited Germany. She didn’t intensively study German before her trip, as others – not her husband- told her that were she to speak German, she would get an answer in English. The only place she used German was in some restaurants in the countryside.

      • Boludo Tejano, I wonder if that is a recent development.I haven’t been to Germany in about 7 years, but I used to go fairly often with my parents who both speak German( I do not).Back then, nobody seemed to speak English, and without my parents to translate I was lost.I can defend myself in Russian and Dutch, and of course in Spanish….I can also spew out a bit of fractured French as well, but the attitudes I perceived on the street which I absorbed like a sponge did not seem to welcome any nonsense whatsoever. Ich war mehr in Deutschland als irgendwo verloren ( from ‘ google translate’ and probably wrong 🙁

        # Looking for Waldo in another dimension of time

        • Sorry, firepigette, but you must have been in a different Germany than the one I know. Most everybody speaks English in Germany, from teens and on and did so going way back, certainly many more years than 7 as you claim. It’s taught mandatory in school and taught the right way with emphasis on speaking the language. Many Germans are very proficient, most speak enough to make a conversation possible.

          • Mike,

            I am convinced that we all visit different countries even when it’s the same one 🙂
            Haven’t you noticed that people describe their visits to foreign countries in vastly different ways?There is probably a strong subjective factor at play that colors perceptions, and then there is simply the factor of luck.

            Don’t know if it makes a difference but we usually we spent our time in Baden Baden.

    • For a very short trip, she picked up a lot of nuance very quickly. It is interesting her confusion of so much of the ambiguity of the situation mirrors our own. Thanks Kepler. Great find.

  4. Art should be a center of human wisdom and beauty for everyone.Those who lack the generosity of spirit to make art open to all people, could never understand true art, nor can they make any sort of claim that they believe in ” art for the people”.

    Clearly we are seeing an attempt to imitate the dictatorial regimes of Hitler and Stalin which utilized art, sculpture, architecture, film, literature, dance and public spectacles on a monumental scale directly as propaganda.

  5. I believe the opposition needs to increase its open discussion about what pluralism is and how real debates take place outside an authoritarian state full of hatred and personality cult.

    We don’t need to be philosophers or political scientists to speak about these things. Anybody can and should discuss these issues at this level. This is the best antidote against brain washing.

      • Thank her. Just spread the article to your German-speaking friends or the Google translation URL to the others, use Stumble Upon or twitter and she’ll be happy and we will get a couple of more people to see what’s going on in Venezuela

  6. The recent decisions and opinions by the Asamblea should definitely condemned by the EU.

    In Sweden I would think Foreign minister Carl Bildt or EU minister Birgitta Ohlsson are the people who’s offices should be contacted. Another possible contact is Integration minister Erik Ullenhag.
    Sweden is of course a small country far removed from Venezuela (homophobic Russia is just next door of course) but its opinion in the EU can be influential.

    Birgitta Ohlsson happens also to be the “democracy minister”, and although that concerns internal questions her office is responsible for EU questions generally.

    The websites with contact information (unfortunately mostly in swedish)

    Carl Bildt
    http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/1670
    Birgitta Ohlsson
    http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/12715/a/140111
    Erik Ullenhag
    http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/13490

  7. Government advocacy of culture: benign.
    Government sponsored culture: más y menos
    Government mandated culture: bad because it eventually becomes governmental propaganda.

    Yet more in the ongoing legacy of “Expropiese!”

    I’ve never understood the government mandate (in many countries, not just Venezuela) to force culture on people. Why can’t they force something that is just as likely to be retained and will have a greater payout, like calculus?

    Did government mandate Mozart? Rodin? da VInci? Mapplethorpe? (Okay, maybe that last one…)

  8. All governments try to apppropiate for themselves the image of all out ‘lovey doveys’ of Cultural expression because they see the propagandistic value of such posturing . The Chavista regime is no exception except for the fact that most Venezuelan intellectuals and artists (despite a propensity for left leaning sympathies) are viscerally and vociferously anti regime, This means that regime cultural propagandists have no understanding of culture as lived by people who actively engage in it but only an artificial superficial view of what it means . Like some children they like the splashy box that brings the toy more than they do the toy itself, they are bound to think that anything reeking of gaudy sentimentality has a cultural import , thus their confusing the semi religious circus cult of Chavez with cultural expression which was what the insightful german poetess visiting us noted as the leif motif of the regimes view of culture. Culture for them is for the most part a prestigious propaganda object they want to exploit for their political benefit Is there anyone inside govt of whom we can say that their lives are touched by the magic of culture , Maduro, Diosdado, Villegas ?, rather the opposite think of iconic regime figures such as
    Lina Ron , Fosforito , Silva , if anything they epithomized a spirit which rabidly inimical to the values of culture . traditional official support for cultural venues and expressions , museums , theater groups etc have been woefully neglected during the Chavez years. Maybe the only cultural area where the govt is probably lending a hand is in financially supporting prof Abreus celebrated System of Youth orchestras , but curiously enough in a quiet way , without much fanfare , perhaps because Abreu realizes that the conversion of the System into a govt propaganda vehicle would be the kiss of death to something which is very precious to Venezuelan hearts . I suspect the help is there but also the savages instinctive tenderness for something alien to it but which it intuits trascends the political. Because culture has become a vehicle of resistence to the regimes ideological pretenses the govt now wants to control its expression to neutralize the dissenting voice that it carries and to transform it into a propaganda vehicle to serve its own political purposes.

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