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.

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  1. I think CESPPA alarmism has been silly from the start.

    1-The elements that fuckify Freedom of Speech in Venezuela don’t have anything to do with some corner of the Helicoide/Fuerte Tiuna security bureaucracy, and everything to do with CONATEL’s/SENIAT’s ability to hound dissident media off the air and SIBCI’s capacity to crowd the airwaves with propaganda. CESPPA is the quinta pata del gato.

    2-CESPPA seems to be an attempt to bring some order to the sprawling bolivarian state security and espionage apparatus – an internal reform aimed at preventing a criollo Snowden more than anything else.

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how exactly this González López feller is supposed to ban publication of a secret SEBIN file without, y’know, telling the papers what that censored information is. How’s that supposed to work exactly, “por medio de la presente le notificamos que está prohibido publicar las siguientes fotos (anexas) de Diosdado cogiendose a una burra”!??! Osea…

    • I think this is a fuzzification of threat

      It’s not about “don’t publish that picture with Diosdado and the male/female donkey” but about telling the media “we know you want to publish something bad about us, we won’t go into what it is but you know what it is and if you do, Maduro will swiftly use this law to strangle you economically, like in ‘by CESSPA I declare you have to pay 1/10 of your income in fines'”

    • To be outraged by CESPPA is to hypocritically pretend the Goebbelsian alternative reality of SIBCI and the very evident self censorship of most privately owned media do not exist.

    • Yes, I guess what this also says hardly by implication is that the existing security apparatus is dis-organized, dis-integrated and incapable of evaluating at a strategic national level the information it has. Which to me conjures images of what surely must be the case, of various cliques among these defenders of el pueblo digno spending most of their time spying on each other, with the assistance of various foreign security apparati (apparatuses?).

      • I still remember when that big leak of SEBIN’s whole spying cache on HCR came out last year. I spent some time going through it and their material on HCR’s entourage – including some longstanding friends-of-caracas-chronicles, btw – amounted literally to their facebook-pages’ public information copied-and-pasted onto MSWord.


    • Coming from Alberto Barrera published on el Nacional on sunday (my own translation):


      “Let’s see if this rings: The organization was created to “gather a process all the information at national level, coming from all different action fields, that the Supreme Government requires to create policies, plans and programs” and , as a consequence, “to adopt the measures required for the upkeep of the national security and the normal development of national activities and for the national institutions maintenance “ What do you think of that? Sounds familiar?

      It was the 1878 decree, dated August 13th, 1977, that gave life to the National Information Center. Country? Chile. Leader? Pinochet. This new entity responded to the dictator’s needs to modernize the censorship and repression system…”

      I don’t know how other censorship systems work. But perhaps before publishing, they will have to go through CESSPA to get clearance. This may be just breaking the legal ground for that.

      If I have to choose between two attitudes, one being chilled one (like you suggest) given that this may be leading to internal issues and is not going to affect freedom of speech, or one, with a very watchful eye, I would take the second, always, just because of the risks of claiming the first, and it being the second are just immense. If I am mistaken, then it will be an insignificant blunder, but if we take your position (FT’s), and you turned out to be wrong, it will be huge disaster.

    • What drew my attention in the first version was the ascendancy of the “Political-Military Directorate of the Revolution” over, it seemed, the Presidency itself.

      The term “Soft Coup” crossed my mind.

      • Aye, aye! I thought the same thing. Seems like he took back control… Or whatever passes as such in the bolivarian cesspool that is Venezuela.

  2. That looks mostly cosmetic to me. Obviously, whenever “national security” is invoked, the capacity exists to override constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms. In a situation such as that of Venezuela, where there is no independent court system, there will be no possible remedy for any decision made by this body.

  3. This is one more weapon in the armory of weapons the regime has to suppress freedom of information , they can cancell any medias license , neglect or outright refuse to renew it , fine the press for publishing anything detrimental to their image , accuse the press of treasonous sedition of public peace , starve it of the Forex it needs to import the paper or other items needed to operate , push and pressure the press to silence itself or to sell their assets to covert ‘friendly’ interests . They are not shy about incurring in overkill.!! They control all institutions and have in practice no limits on what they can do to silence any dissenting voice or to place it at its service. They can even tell a media outlet not to publish a report on DC’s bestialist practices ( where they to exist) by declaring that ‘no news will be published which contains allegations that defame or expose to public derision the reputation of any of the government highest officials “

    • Should be, “no news will be published which contains allegations that defame or expose to public derision the reputation of any members of the Animal Kingdom” someone’s gotta protect them from DC.

  4. And I just realized that because one of those wonderful glitches of the internet, I am posting this in the wrong thread… this was supposed to go on the one about El Universal story… me voy con mi música a otra parte…

  5. Sorry to stray so far off topic but this is just too interesting. Many of you would have seen Ramirez announce massive food imports from Brazil (coincidentally over the period leading up to elections?). Now reports have Brazil coming to Caracas last week to discuss not being paid money already owed Brazil for food imports which Brazil attributes to “economic crisis in Venezuela.”



  6. Repression requires resources at a time when there are pressing economic issues. It would seem to me that the Government has given up hope on the economic issues and can only concentrate on repression?

  7. Was there any news coverage of this anywhere? To me it’s so over the top no one would pay much attention to it no matter how insulting it is. A huge waste of paper and nothing more.


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