Outside the realm of State media, there’s probably no better place to explore the state of grass-roots Chavismo than the alternative news and opinion website Aporrea.
The site offers a glimpse of all the different views inside el proceso – from the most rational ones to outright paranoid conspiracists – a range that’s seldom reflected in the stultifying/stultified, slave-to-the-party-line SIBCI system.
But recently, Aporrea has also become the place where internal criticism within Chavismo is pushing back against the homogenizing drive of communicational hegemony.
One of Aporrea’s co-founders, Gonzalo Gómez has expressed some of his concerns in a recent interview with El Universal, complaining about a “growing media siege” from the State’s bureaucracy.
In his view, the State Media System (SIBCI) is only interested in promoting and defending the Maudro government.
…State media mostly focuses on the government’s agenda and what it does to achieve it. Meanwhile, anything with a hint of confrontation or scuff or discrepancy with the State’s organization or with one of its members is ignored and left out. It’s coming to be seen as inconvenient or dangerous…
…(State media) only uses the government or State view, and not the view of revolutionary people. That’s why popular movements must have our own spaces, even if bureaucrats or ministers don’t like it. State media outlets should be for us, not for bureaucrats …
Even if Aporrea is not part of SIBCI, it depends largely on State advertising, and Gómez admits there have been times where the flow ad bolivars has decreased, forcing the site to go and look for other sources of revenue, like Google Ads.
For Gómez, the State media outlet that has been closest to following Aporrea’s model has been ViVe TV (self-defined as “channel of the popular power”), but that the station has failed in that approach.
Why? This article explains how the lack of experience and technical resources, budget cuts, and the priority SIBCI gives to live government broadcasts are to blame. (It doesn’t help that ViVe’s programming often makes for an excellent treatment for insomnia.)
But it looks like Gómez is right in what he defines as the “bureaucratic media siege” and its policy of silence: Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres ordered all employees of the SAREN (which include all notaries and public registries) to avoid speaking to the press.