Cesppa backtracks... just a little bit

The key change in CESPPA’s duties: all references to the so-called “enemy activity” (in this original draft) have been dropped.

Since its creation by decree earlier this month, there’s been a lot of controversy over the new State entity known as CESPPA (Strategic Center for the Security and Protection of the Fatherland). From the National Journalists’ Association (CNP) to several local NGOs, there has been a public backlash against this new agency and its possible effects free speech, access to public information and privacy.

Well, the government has now tweaked the presidential decree used to establish the CESPPA, deleting some of its most inflammatory provisions. According to the summary of the latest edition of the Official Gazette, such changes were made because of “flaws in the original publishing”, but as you read it, you realize they don’t just mean typos.

Article 3 of the original decree (published on October 7th) mentions that the CESPPA would monitor all informations related to “enemy activity, foreign or domestic”. That concept is no longer present in the new version of the decree (published on October 24th). Also gone of CESPPA’s duties (Article 8) is the obligation of private organizations to provide the agency with materials that could “…impact in the security of the fatherland”.

Moreover, full control of the CESPPA’s activities will be only in hands of the Presidency, as the previous mention of the Political-Militar Directorate of the Revolution was eliminated.

Still, the main concerns about CESPPA remains. The decree seems to give the presidency the power to censor (i.e., before publication) any piece of information that it considers a threat to our national security. Its first appointed Director, Major-General Gustavo González López is also chief of National Intelligence.

Meanwhile, a detailed comparison between CESPPA and its predecessor CESNA can be seen here, courtesy of the Venezuelan chapter of the NGO Transparency International. Matter of fact, the new decree indicates that CESPPA is indeed the replacement of CESNA. By comparing both, it’s obvious that CESPPA is a leaner, meaner version of its former self.