A Word on Blogs and Pogroms (UPDATED)

Bg27k3xCIAAyTqaIf, as the old cliché has it, “journalism is the first draft of history”, then blogging must be the note hurriedly scribbled on the napkin of history. A blog post, by nature, is a product of its moment – it’s either written “hot” or it’s not worth writing at all.

I say that because it’s come to my attention that people have taken exception to my use of the word “pogrom” to describe the brutally intimidatory attack the National Guard, alongside members of armed chavista paramilitary groups, launched on middle class areas of Caracas and other cities on the night of February 19th to February 20th.

To be clear, with the benefit of hindsight, I would not use that word to describe those events. It has since become clear that the violence that night left no fatalities (Update:) just one fatality, and so did not rise to the commonly understood definition of a “pogrom.”

But of course my posts of 19 and 20F were not written in retrospect. They were written “hot”, with videos coming out minute after minute of troops shooting into residential buildings, and large swarms of armed thugs on motorcycles roaming the streets, and multiple reports of troops breaking into apartment buildings to round up student protesters with no semblance of judicial authority or due process.

On the night of February 19th, caraqueños experienced something they’d never experienced before: an all out drive by the state to intimidate them, to terrorize them and to impress upon them their helplessness against official violence.

On that score, they outdid themselves:

It is worth remembering that more than a dozen of the activists detained in similar circumstances have since filed detailed allegations of torture suffered while in detention, only to have those claims dismissed by the authorities without any semblance of a serious investigation.

The fact that, against that backdrop, it’s some blogger’s use of heat-of-the-moment overstatement that strikes some observers as the real human rights outrage of February 19th and 20th says a good deal more about their character than it does about mine. 

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