Tourism Minister Andrés Izarra is getting restless. The architect of chavismo’s Communicational Hegemony strategy has ambitions far bigger than what his crappy new cabinet post can contain. Yesterday, he couldn’t help himself: he just had to celebrate Venezuela’s exit from the Inter-American Human Rights Convention.
How, precisely, leaving the hemisphere’s oldest and most credible human rights court is meant to, y’know, attract tourists is obscure at best. The most reasonable guess, I think, is that Izarra is bored stiff with the tourism portfolio.
In a you-gotta-hand-it-to-Lex-Luthor kinda way, I won’t try to hide my admiration for the guy. Essentially alone in the claustrophobic little rotating cast of kleptocratic nullities Chávez and Maduro tapped for ministerial posts, Andrés Izarra built something: something real, something ambitious, something operative. Even if his zero-a-la-izquierda successor renamed it, nobody is fooled: SIBCI, the socialist state’s sprawling propaganda conglomerate, is Izarra’s creature through-and-through.
I’ve always thought of Izarra as an under-rated visionary: he’s the first guy who understood, really understood, that media pluralism was incompatible with Bolivarian Socialism. And he’s the guy who saw what needed to be done about it.
It’s Izarra who grasped why the government would never be stable if opposing voices had reasonably free access to the airwaves. It’s Izarra who figured out a softly-softly plan to drive them out, quietly, without making a fuss or giving the opposition martyrs to rally around. It’s Izarra who understood a single pro-government TV channel wasn’t enough, that you needed a real multi-platform, multi-media system to go after all the different ways information gets out to people, and that you needed to monopolize them all.
Honestly, I think Maduro has been ungracious exiling him to the desolate wilds of the tourism ministry, a place where no chavista could really hope to make his mark. For a government so short of real talent, it’s a puzzling decision. Sure, Maduro has no shortage of guys willing to offer him fanatical obedience and, well, just plain fanaticism. But how many of those will get their noses down to the grindstone and work it?
Not that many, folks…not that many…