Obsessed with Leopoldo's ethos

103
The smoking gun
The smoking gun.

Leopoldo López has been attending hearings regarding his current judicial situation for the past few days. It’s been a week-long affair, which makes you wonder why they go through all this this trouble when, at least in Cuba or the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia, quickie trials were swift.

While I have not been able to follow the nature of the proceeding, I took a look at the formal accusation presented by the eminent legal scholars representing the Prosecutors Office. The whole document is a masterpiece of Dadaist chavismo.

The government’s entire case rests on the analysis of the speeches made by Leopoldo, speeches in which he dared question the legitimacy of the authorities, and told people to march and stay on the streets to demand democracy. The Prosecutors then weave a legal theory that, taken to its logical conclusion, makes Leopoldo responsible for everything that has happened since the Venezuelan protest movement began in February.

To say that the accusation makes no sense does a disservice to the nonsensical. According to these eminent legal scholars, criticizing the government is now completely illegal, but it goes beyond that. Questioning the legitimacy of the government, that is, questioning what the government is and not really what it does, constitutes a criminal offense.

The other interesting aspect of this theory is that, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, politicians are now responsible for the acts their followers engage in, by the mere fact that their speeches may be tangentially related to what they do. All the Prosecutor needs is a semantic analysis of the speech and, voilá, charges are pressed. In that regard, López was responsible for whatever violence happened on February 12th, in much the same way that Hugo Chávez, say, is responsible for the violence unleashed by his followers (well, that part is not mentioned by the Prosecutors, but it follows clearly from their argument). It is, quite literally, the criminalization of free speech.

The whole document is well worth a read, although at 228 pages, it can get old after a while. Here was my favorite of many, many money quotes:

“We were also able to present to the court a very solid theoretical framework related to argumentative rhetoric and discursive studies of the image of the self in the discourse, establishing that citizen Leopoldo López possesses a discursive ethos that dominates and directly affects the ethos of the people he is addressing; as a consequence, everything the speaker says to his listeners has a strong influence, not only on their way of thinking, but also on the potential acts the listeners could engage in, and act in consequence of. On this point, the discursive strength and the ascendancy of citizen Leopoldo López as a political leader is unquestionable, because he has catalyzed the claims felt by a significant part of the Venezuelan population; therefore, what he says to his listeners is effectively transmitted, so much so that his listeners feel compelled and encouraged to follow through, in actions, with what he tells them they should do, even though he might not explain it to them explicitly.”

103 COMMENTS

  1. …and to think that they recently celebrated Hugo’s coup de tant! Hmmm. I’d like to hear the ethos that explains that!

    • Carlos,
      It’s really sickening of you. You keep going over and over and over again about the “uneducated pueblo”, here and all over the place. It seems your resentment against several million people, of which only a part are anyhow more guilty than you for having this government in place, is worse than the Chavista resentment against the others.

      • IMHO, calling ‘uneducated’ those who have received terrible education -or none at all- is not exactly resentful; at worst, it’s politically incorrect.

        • Moder, it is not an issue that these people have got a terrible education. But the fact is: who is “these people”?
          For Goodness sake, I know quite a lot of people who have little formal education and they are completely against Chávez and they have always been. I also know some Chavistas who have much better education than a lot of oppos but are nonetheless fanatics or just full of hatred or whatever. I have known a lot of people on our side who have quite some formal education but perhaps not as insightful as they might think.

          Nazi Germany had some of the best educated people and they went full into auto-destruction mode.

          It is not just a problem of “uneducated puebl”. It is a problem of fanatism, of ignorance that goes beyond being or not with some formal education (as the difference between a lot of Chavistas and a lot of oppos is just that their “men” are in power or not).

          And let’s remember: about a third of the population is even voting for Chavismo. A third is indifferent. 80% of the total population are poor. Things are more complicated than “the uneducated pueplo” on one side or something.

          • Kepler
            Very good insight. I live in Honduras and a lot of times I want to blame everything in the uneducated but on the other hand I know some very good and sincere people who can hardly read or write but they have a good heart.

          • “Hate” is a strong emotion that requires an inordinate amount of energy to maintain. To hate most of humanity would would require god-like reserves of energy.

          • I agree it’s not about lack of education.
            It’s about hate.
            The haters would rather the entire country fall to ruin rather than to allow the hated to benefit from a change of regime that would prevent that ruin.
            Look, educated chavistas know perfectly well chavismo is Venezuela’s ruin. As soon as they can, middle class educated chavistas emigrate yet the very last vote they cast right at the airport gate is always for chavismo.
            Believe me, I know of a number of cases personally.
            Just like in Cuba: 99% of Cubans say they want to emigrate and are not afraid of saying so. But of those 99%, half will cut off their own hand before casting a vote for the opposition.
            At least, this is the report I get from close family members who have visited and stayed for a couple of months in Cuba recently.
            It’s just hate, pure and undiluted.

          • Exactly RN,

            People vote more according to their emotions than to any reason, though our egos’ make us think otherwise.It’s easy to stir up hatred, and to hate.It’s the law of gravity.Things tend to hit bottom.

            I have been saying this for years.Educating the people is good but it is not the remedy for this.At least education as we usually know it.

    • El pueblo knows it’s not a democracy. For the Chavistas, they knew that Chavez was a dictator and a coño’y’madre. The only difference is he was their coño’y’madre.

  2. Chavez was also buddy-buddy with Carlos the Jackal who definitely espoused murder and terrorism as an acceptable method of political change. Maduro needs to condemn Chavez before dreaming up spurious legal actions against Lopez.

  3. Juan,

    These people want to put Machado in jail or make her firstly do something so that they can put her in jail.
    Why? What is it they want to reach with that exactly? Or is it they just can’t help it?
    The economy is degrading further and it has to do with that. But what are the scenarios they are seeing now?

    • Kepler,

      Actually, they want to force Machado, Capriles, and the others into exile, like Carlos Vecchio-Mary Ponte. So long as they are in Venezuela, even in jail, they are a symbol of the resistance. If the government can force them into exile, it sends the message to the public that their resistance is futile, and that if they don´t like it, they should leave.

  4. This is indeed strange and Orwellian. It seems to me that someone in the prosecutor’s office has recently completed a degree, a BS or even an MS, focusing on “discourse analysis”. see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_analysis

    Post-modern theorist are very fond of drawing great sweeping, ‘insightful’ conclusions from mere textual analysis (frequency of words and phrases, various constructions, and etc. etc.).

    And, well, put someone in power in a prosecutors office who did their superficial thesis in discourse analysis and, I guess, this is what you get. They can know it all simply from analyzing the offender’s text! (Poor Foucault … he probably would squirm about attempting to turn over in his grave if he saw this!) This also reflects the low theoretical level of chavismo generally that such nonsense flies in those circles.

    (As long as we are on the subject: I once asked an extremely erudite academic friend of mine, who speaks many languages and spent many many years doing field work in Myanmar and India, including residing for long periods in monasteries and studying contemporary and ancient languages from monks … I asked him “Why do the humanities and some area studies people spend so much time nowadays on analysis of the minutia of language without knowing much of anything direct about the life and times of the authors?” and he said, simply, “Because they can do it in the comfort of their university office without doing years of field work to understand a country where they can get very sick on the food and water,” … and, I should add, risk being forgotten about back at the university.)

    • Foucault is one of those elliptical but powerful prose stylists who has spawned a million crappy followers. Apparently including, as I think you correctly point out, some in the Venezuelan prosecutor’s office. Irony of ironies! Foucault said that knowledge was power, but what he should have also said is that a little bit of knowledge in the hands of some fanatics can be a dangerous thing.

  5. “The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.” Vaclav Havel, The Power of the Powerless

    Times like these you want to just take a moment and read something that is not total bullshit.

    • I’m not so sure this is at all ideogical or fascistic. Not any longer, anyway. It’s looking more like a “cult.”
      Logic, even the appearance of logic, is abandoned here! This is not for general consumption. This looks like a struggle of some kind that is meant to show deference to power. If it has a message to us to heed, it’s a warning that nothing less than total deference will be tolerated. Be ready for a shock! LL may be in big trouble!

  6. I’m not a huge fan of Art.350 of the 1999 constitution (which the chavistas included in a bid to obtain retroactive legitimacy for their 1992 coup attempts), but it does, undeniably, exist. And, lest it be forgotten, it does not merely permit the citizen to challenge the legitimacy of the established ‘regime, legislation or authority’ in the event that they ‘contradict democratic values, principles and guarantees or undermine human rights’. It imposes a duty on the citizen to do exactly that. Of course, by definition, once you’re in that situation there is no national authority that can or will uphold your rights. Bit of a Catch-22 really.

  7. Blatant hypocrisy at its finest. That’s chavismo for you. I expect that even if they release Leopoldo (which seems unlikely, following the “logic” behind these charges), it won’t be because they concluded he’s innocent, but because they are thinking of a higher political threat.

  8. Just finished a book about North Korea. Lots of parallels, especially in the importance of language manipulation.

    • Language manipulation is all over politics everywhere.Do you really think ” Progressives ” are really ” Progressive “? Even the common terms are often used in ways that favor stretching the truth.

      Look at the word ” tolerant” and how is is used in politics.People are quite angry at others for not being tolerant of their favorite causes. hehe…in other words they are tactically intolerant of the intolerant.

      And then there are those who hate the haters.They are the people who feel justified in their hatred for those who hate those the justified feel are worthy.

      Common words are used in ways that allow people to be manipulated, and to feel self righteous about their votes and/ or loyalties.

      • My point is exactly that. “Terminated with prejudice”, ” enhanced interrogation”, “rendition”. The book about NK, a dystopic novel, is The Orphan Master’s Son.”

  9. Just more of “Para mis amigos, todo. Para mis enemigos, la ley.” [For my friends, everything. For my enemies, the law.] Nothing new here- just another application. But as JC notes, why be so convoluted in its application? Perhaps because the more convoluted, the more thought out and thus the more fair it appears to some.

    This also brings forth a quote from Alice in Wonderland.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

    Many times something that Hugo Chavez said reminded people of this Humpty Dumpty quote. Just Chavismo being Chavismo. Just more of lying and injustice.

  10. The indictment against LL is a recognition of the charismatic quality of some peoples personality and speech , the way they can sway and compel people to do not only what the words themselves say but to perform acts which are silently implied in the words which are said . in the tone of voice, in the tempo of the delivery, in many subtle details of voice and expression . A capacity for verbal bewitchment which operates at a subconscious level but which is both strong and compelling to their audience.

    Remember Albert Speers description of how he accompanied a friend to hear for the 1st time a speech by Hitler , someone he saw as a kind of picturesque uneducated buffoon , how Hitler begun slowly and restrained and then bit by bit started to hike the tone of the speech until at one moment ( he didn’t understood how) he heard himself raptously shouting ‘sieg heils’ in unison with the crowd around him .

    There was a pre election study made of two US tv news anchors, each of which had their steady audience , and their political preferences which they were absolutely forbidden to reveal to those who heard them each night . After election they polled their audience to see how they had voted , and discovered to their surprise that the voting of each anchors audience voting reflected their respective political preferences .

    Unconsciously the anchors without saying anything explicit had managed to convey and communicate their preferences to their tv audience.!!.

    The problem with the indictment argument is that a lot of people ( including myself) have heard LL speak a lot of times without having felt any particular call to engage in violent deeds regardless of the words uttered. I suspect that the effect words have on people often have something to do with their mood and temper at the time the speech is heard , a mood and temper that is just as likely the result of external factors that predispose people to experience them , for instance having to spend a lot of time queing for difficult to get food stapples or medicines , or hearing some one speak with hatred and scorn against people they identify with . its like two different elements bringing on a chemical reaction which absent any of the two elements would never ocurr . Maybe violence is not just the result of someones speech but of the way people feel mistreated and angry when they hear the speech.

  11. The decision to keep LL in prison was given at 3.30 AM.
    Twitter is full of calls for more street demonstrations.
    It will be interesting to see if Venezuelans continue protesting.

    From a personal view point I am angry & frustrated that we are so helpless to do anything that will make a difference.

    • Island .It takes a world….many more people need to take a stand, and unfortunately it looks like many do not want to.Some of my friends tell me that even opposition folks are criticizing those who take a strong verbal stand on things.

      • Not only more people need to take a stand, but more South American governments as well. Where are they? Rousseff? Mujica? Didn’t they come to power emphasizing their loss of rights/freedom while in opposition? Weren’t they tortured as well? The hypocrisy here is beyond belief. What about Bachelet? Where is she this morning? Shocking. Unbelievable.

        • it is shocking Dr Faustus, I hardly know what to think.My imagination on this matter is getting the best of me.

        • Because their perspectives have changed with the power they now hold.
          Suddenly, it’s not so much about ensuring human rights, but making sure everything’s ready for the World Cup. It’s not about ensuring democracy in the region so much as making sure that steady stream of cheap -or free- oil barrels isn’t cut off.
          And of course, there’s an image to uphold as a united South America.

        • Where are they? Rousseff? Mujica? Didn’t they come to power emphasizing their loss of rights/freedom while in opposition? Weren’t they tortured as well?

          I previously commented about this. File this under a number of headings, such as “There are no enemies on the left.” Also file it under “Depende de quién sea torturado. It depends on who is tortured,”courtesy of V.S. Naipaul’s 1972 article on Argentina. Naipaul saw the left’s flexible attitude towards violations of human rights or civil rights early on, well before the Dirty War was in full boil. Here Naipaul quotes a Peronist trade unionist. “Civil rights” attorneys gave similar quotes.

          Are they hypocrites? Are they unprincipled? Indeed. That’s they way the Left operates.

          • These are the same people that have been idolizing Fidel forever.
            They gave him standing ovations!!

  12. The result was absolutely predictable , the govt wasnt going to let LL loose without implicitly admitting to having done something unjust and foolish ( which would make them lose face) or to be able with his presence and speech to rouse the enthusiasm of his many followers . Specially at this time of crisis in their falling popularity .

    Also there are radical factions within Chavismo which need to be kept happy and which would be incensed at the govt allowing LL’s release .

    The only thing the regime fears in that street violence become uncontrolled and the tarnishement of its already much deteriorated international reputation. On the first count they feel theyve managed to control the most violent protests through sheer repression and in the second that theyve already made the right noises to keep the world at peace with the offer of a dialogue which is never going to materialize.

    So LL is in for a long time in prison , something which will stoke the fires of Oppo indignation and maybe arouse some people to more protests which the govt in any event is confident of controlling through the tools of repression.

    The use of extremely frail and idiotic semiotic arguements to shore up the accusation makes it clear that they have no respect for logic or law , that for them even the most fallacious and farsical of arguments can serve to justify putting and keeping their opponents in jail . which by now is no news to anyone. !!

    • They did it with Simonovis and Afiuni, they’ll do it as many times as they want.
      It’s called political prisoners for one reason.

  13. “therefore, what he says to his listeners is effectively transmitted, so much so that his listeners feel compelled and encouraged to follow through, in actions, with what he tells them they should do, even though he might not explain it to them explicitly.”

    “…even though he might not explain it to them explicitly” This is exactly how Maduro is controlling the motorcycle gangs terrorizing protestors. No explicit orders are given but the motos known what to do and know that they will never be prosecuted.

    • Unlike Maduro’s *subtleties*, Chávez had no trouble explicitly calling for action, among the motorizados, during his Aló Presis.

      • Maburro’s not subtle at all either, one crystal clear example of the regime calling its death squads to slaughter people is when the seven-sole thief francisco ameliach called the choros to kill protesters in Carabobo, where the most notable cases where two ladies who got shot in the face and died a bit later.

  14. “what he says to his listeners is effectively transmitted, so much so that his listeners feel compelled and encouraged to follow through, in actions, with what he tells them they should do, even though he might not explain it to them explicitly.””

    The dung-filled doll said several times: “We will grind the escuacas into cosmic powder! We’ll flatten them!” And we had more than 200.000 murders in his 14 years.

    I rest my case.

  15. If you can be held guilty, not for what you ve told other people , but for the way those people on their own have decided to understand what you said to them , we are adopting a surreal kafkaesque standard of guilt such as no one else in history has ever dared affirm , even in the worst days of the inquisition . !!

    This is very close to the primitive notion that your thoughts by themselves can magically harm people , taking us back to the days of witches and ‘mal de ojo’ . Something closer to what a primitive tribal sorcerer might believe than to the rational criteria a modern system of justice applies to establish the guilt of criminals !!

  16. LL is to Guarimba violence/deaths, as Simonovis is to 4/11 violence/deaths–i.e., scapegoats, in for the long-haul, until the Govt. is overthrown, or their impending deaths from natural causes Might elicit a humanitarian release…

  17. Over the last month, I have seen a marked decrease in posts of substance in this blog and others. This is not the fault of the bloggers. The the problem is that we are approaching some sort of event horizon in which it is no longer possible to see or predict the future with any level of accuracy. Events are unfolding rapidly, but they are not really controlled or planned. No one is really surprised by the decision to continue the charges against LL. Did the government have any choice in the matter? All we have to talk about is the manner in which they “justified” it, which is not really relevant.

    I feel that we are seeing is an animal in its death throes, thrashing about as energetically as ever, but without rational purpose.

    • I am not sure that I would characterize my comment as “optimistic”. It was really just some dis-jointed half-baked thoughts. If I had any point at all, it was that events are spiraling out of anyone’s control, and what comes afterwards isn’t really predictable. On these blogs, we try to feel like we are on top of the situation and thus have some measure of control. In fact, we are becoming powerless to even predict events, much less influence them.

      • Roy, What some of us are feeling right now I might characterize as overwhelmed.There is something about everything that is happening that kind of freezes one’s inner world.Many are without words, plans or ideas….things are hard to process..like being in shock.I feel like I am trying to wrap my mind around events that are so bizarre and happening so fast that they are hard to process and predict. or even accept .Some people are ignoring things in order not to collapse.Others are emoting their anger in order not to feel impotent…others are denying what is going on in order not to collapse.But the country is collapsing very quickly into something most of us are not yet sure quite what.

        • Well described! I think of it as a country of “cowards” who like to hide behind “law”, “constitution”, “human rights”, “international support”, “political activists”, “opposition leadership”… and suddenly they are “used up”, and there is nothing left to hide behind…and we have to make a choice that we don’t want to make!

        • I submit to you that what you are experiencing is the collapse of “civil society”, which according to Satra: “civil society can be understood to be a political space where voluntary associations deliberately seek to shape the rules that govern aspects of social life.” Each individual must make a choice whether to control the future or to be controlled by it!

      • The legal document cooked by Maduro’s boys and girls is ludicrous as a logical argument but the author has a rich vocabulary and fluid diction so he or she or them is certainly NOT without intelligence. One wonders how and why anyone with ANY smarts would defend a regime that is precipitating the obvious erosion of most every civilized standard of living and virtually the entire public sector. My daughter is an MD in Caracas and for the lack of standard medicines, people are losing limbs and waiting for surgeries. Even the idea of holding onto power no matter what seems daft at this point. One has to wonder if at this point the only reason to hang on and bother carefully writing a 200 plus page doc of bullshit about Lopez is to stay just a little longer so they can plunder a little bit more. If you took ALL opportunities to bilk shipping, steal petro dough, bleed this and that for another buck, who would do that writing, and why?

          • Education and smarts are not the same but I still wonder what the point is to keep clinging to power. If it’s power for power’s sake, meaning the dispossessed folks have felt some dominion and will die before giving that up – that’s one thing, and the ruling class in Ven. treated the peons so poorly for so long they must have seen this coming. But if Maduro’s rubes actually think they can pull the country out of this fire by the same means that got them there, THAT is plain dumb. Only thing keeping a lid on is the infusion of petrodollars every couple weeks. But even that won’t help so long as they keep pouring it into an economic model full of holes and blarney. Maybe the whole works has to come crashing down before any viable rebuilding can take place. But now that the general populace has tasted power, it’s bound to b a tricky road to navigate.

            JL

          • They still believe that, by imposing communism, they are saving the world from capitalism… They stated so plainly at the first dialogue meeting: A) that out of these meetings there was no way that they would stop being socialists (i.e., communists), and B) that what they would like from the other side is help in getting “socialism” to work, rather than fighting against it.

          • Education is not the same as smarts , but to achieve smarts you usually need an education , an education is neither redundant nor sufficient to achieve smarts , but then smarts include many different qualities , the capacity to understand things , to judge on them with some degree of accuracy , to figure out what can be done to attempt to solve problems , and most difficult of all the capacity to effectively do what needs to be done in practice to solve or cope with those problems . Not every smart person is smart in all these different dimensions .

            As Kep says having an education doesnt give you smarts , but for most people having an education is the first step towards acquiring smarts , there are a lot of educated people who stop short of developing their intellectual qualities once they finished with formal schooling , or do a bad job of using their education to male themselves intellectually literate , But having an education can help a lot .

            Alongside ones raw intellectual capacity there is a capacity for intellectual performance which has to do with ones intellectual temperament or character , how good one can be at making use of ones natural intellectual gifts.

            Its like a person who has the natural atributes to become a good athlete but never develops an interests in athletism or doenst train or is undisciplined and disorganized in the way it trains . Making yourself a good athlete takes more than having the bodily attributes to become one , or training to become one if the you lack the latter.

            Some people supporting the govt are educated , which allows them a fluent use of language in exotic and hyperbolic ways , but they lack smarts in the sense that theyve chosen to adopt a farcical delusional omni explantory narrative that rewards their appetite for personal aggrandizement and histrionic grandiosity through the cultivation of glorified hatreds and resentments . They are not smart in the correct sense of the word , neither are they necessarily dumb but their thoughs are idiotized by their adoption of rethorically false and bloated ideological discourses.

          • Bill Bass, I think you need to define ” smarts” so that your idea can be better appreciated here.

            There are 3 basic venues of intelligent expression in human beings( on our ordinary level): instinctive, emotional and mental….and then there are sub- categories.

            There are quite a few people out there with no education whatsoever who through instinctive intelligence alone could know exactly what to do when confronted with danger…..

            Studies have shown that through grit along people can go onto higher studies that people with talent have no need for.

            You need to be more specific I think

          • JL and Extorres,

            The Chavistas are in the classical situation of having a tiger by the tail. They cannot relinquish power, because the country would turn on them and prosecute them. Even to flee the country, to enjoy their spoils is problematic in today’s world. The bottom line is they have little choice in the matter.

  18. During the American Civil War, Ohio Democrat Clement Vallandigham made a stump speech denouncing the Lincoln administration and the conduct of the war. General Ambrose Burnside, military chief in Ohio, had Vallandigham arrested.

    This was a great embarrassment to Lincoln, who quickly had Vallandigham released into Confederate territory. However, Lincoln also made the following comment: “Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I may not touch a hair of the wily agitator who induces him to desert?”

    And it’s a fact that clever men can incite crimes by others – often without explicit language.

    It’s a danger – but laws against it are an obvious invitation for regimes to use them in bad faith to suppress criticism. Which is obvious here.

  19. Lincoln was all for pardoning the life of young deserters , and also for not persecuting the copperheads who opposed the war against the south . For him Burnsides imprisonment of Vallandingham was an embarrassment not somethiing he applauded , He was very mindful of the Law and Burnside act was probably unlawfull , a show of excess zeal . In times of war however sometimes it becomes more difficult to be faithful to the strict letter of the law and some measures need exceptionally and reluctantly be taken which would not be taken in time of peace , Lincoln also understood the latter.

    LL speeches were provocative but hardly unlawful , this is evident from the farfetched and weak arguments used by the regime to indict him but the govt is clearly very fearful of the unfolding crisis its facing and is now accostummed to acting with heavy hand to protect its menaced sense of political control . It is not shy of breaking the law using the flimsiest of legal arguments if it feels ifs control of power may be at stake .

    If you face the run away abuses of an unlawful regime with assertive but lawful actions there is a disparity which makes those opposing regime feel unconfortable because they know that maybe unlawful actions may be needed to fight that regime and they are reluctant to cross the barrier . This may be part of the uneasiness which some people in the opposition feel . The reason why they are more inclined to favour guarimba tactics. . .

  20. Pointing out the obvious. Leopoldo is not only a political prisoner, but he has been made an example of what castro-madurismo will do to anyone opposing the regimen. Is ironic how Leopoldo turn himself in, in an idealistic fashion, to the group of tyrants.

    I hope I’m wrong, but don’t know if they will let him out any time soon. As he would be much more dangerous to the regimen after spending all this time unfairly in prison (isolation). Particularly if there is no significant pressure from civil society or international community to free him.

    • “Capitalismo al Rescate..”
      And how long will it take the GOV to add some sort of humongous import duty to those Care packages from Westonzuela?

      • Boludo, Roy, OT, you might be interested in this. I started a Wikipedia article about corruption in Venezuela. It is still the start of a very short draft of a stub, as there is so much to write about, the article might become as long as “History of China”, with references to other articles, but there is always a start. I am aware I haven’t touched the accusations against the Chávez clan or Cabello, not even about those against Maduro, but I am collecting the most serious references to that (and I am afraid there is little as we don’t have access to the important records on that).
        If you have some suggestions, feel free to send me an email.

        • The idea is excellent !! but ultimately the cases are so many that it would have to end up in a book . and the effort would require the effort of many research journalists and indiviual witnesses giving their personal accounts of what they know about the regimes corruption !!

          On another on topic matter , Thinking about the letter to Pepe Mujica Im wondering what we in Venezuela did when Mujica was going through his time of torture and imprisonment in Uruguau , did our government protest ?? did it try to bring the subject to the attention of international bodies ?? I honestly cant remember , but it would be interesting to know whether we were as sensitive to human rights violations then as we are now . I remember Betancourt had a very feisty policy as regards illegitimate regimes , we simply cut any relations with them and that was it . but cant remember how we dealt with human right violation cases.!!

          • Regarding the corruption cases: Wikipedia is not for investigation but for encyclopaedic work
            and I ask anyone who wants to contribute there to simply follow the encyclopaedic approach, no speculation or accusation. You can take a look at the article “Corrupción en Chile”. It is curious but not surprising at all that the country with the least corruption in Latin America is the one with a complete article about corruption in Wikipedia.

          • About Pepe: what about if the Venezuelan opposition sends an email to every Uruguayan embassy in the world with open copy to CNN Spanish, BBC Mundo, La Nación, El TIempo, El Universal Mexico and Venezuela? The letter can be simply what Francisco wrote. That’s a brilliant text.

          • Boludo Tejano,

            That was me, but I was paraphrasing a quote from Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin (AKA: Joseph Stalin): “One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.” Whatever else he was, he did have a way with words.

        • Kepler,

          I agree with the others. What you propose is a massive undertaking, and could only be completed by a large team of investigators including forensic accountants. And, of course, the main governmental records are not accessible and will likely be destroyed when the rats start fleeing the sinking ship. The only suggestions I have is to comb the blogs for the references to the biggest scandals. Of course, Alek Boyd has done in depth investigations of a few shell corporations created for the purpose of siphoning dollars from the public treasury, such as Derwick Associates.

          • I must have expressed myself wrongly. Look at the page “Corrupción en Chile” in the Spanish Wikipedia.
            I want for Venezuela’s corruption information at least a page as good as that. Just some people who know the rules of Wikipedia (by that I mean the real conventions, just read Wikipedia’s instructions) can prepare a set of nice articles about Venezuela, articles that can serve as a collection of references.

            That is what encyclopedias are. Encyclopedias are never and never were original research (not in the XVIII century and not when Gaius Plinius Secundus Maior wrote his stuff. We cannot use blogs for Wikipedia’s political-related articles because others will oppose. But we can quote The Economist, we can quote El Universal, we can quote Tal Cual etc, yes, even governmental pages.

            That’s all there is to Wikipedia. Look at the article of Economía de Venezuela. I also corrected it a bit, even if there is a lot to be done (but I won’t go further into that). Unfortunately, few people related to Venezuela want to do that job because it is a community work without property rights. That article was a complete mess a couple of months earlier. It basically contained Chavista propaganda and then a huge amount of information about CADIVI, which is the obsession of Venezuelans left and right. I added a tiny bit about production and some references. I hope others add more.

            I know Chavistas are carrying out a propaganda campaign through Wikipedia. But if we write correctly there and follow Wikipedia practices, they can do less damage.

            And when other people then read Wikipedia, they will find a couple of interesting references put together, make up their minds, follow the links, the sources, etc.

            That’s all.

            For “original research” we have journos and, occasionally, bloggers or historians.

          • Corrupt regimes dont advertise their corruption nor do those who profit from it, on the contrary it makes a big effort at hiding its existence , its disclosure therefore warrants a research effort to bring it out in detail ,

            The wikipedia approach is perhaps useful but if it is limited to absolutely public and absolutely proven cases of corruption much of the corruption that happens will never appear on its pages..Thats not sattisfactory !!

            I liked the personal testimony approach used for example to document the nazi holocaust of europeamn jewry in film (Noah??) or the journalistic approach which has scratched the surface of the corruption that characterizes this regime, but there is so much more that hasnt surfaced . If the page is to have any impact its format has to be a bit more open .

          • That’s not satisfactory?
            Well: do something about it.

            Commenting on a long thread of comments in blogs in another language is, I believe, much less of an aid.

            There is no silver bullet but a million little efforts;

            My blog and some information I pass to politicians is what I can do.
            The Wikipedia effort is also a tiny action that might help, to the humble pupil curious about the topic in Guárico or Los Teques and to outsiders abroad.

            What are the ones you are already implementing?

          • Something else: type in in Google “corrupción en Venezuela”. The Wikipedia article will appear now in the third screenshot but I just created it. Let it grow properly and it will be the first thing to appear. Written properly, it will be an eye popper for those who matter, the ones who read in Spanish.

  21. Kep : I dont belittle your effort for starting a wikipedia on venezuelan corruption , it is praiseworthy , Simply stating an opinion that it is not enough however is nothing that deserves your by now customarily acerbic kind of response , hiperstesia is not one of your best qualities , specially as it is accompanied by so many other good qualities of character and pen that many of us in this blog respect and admire .!!

    On the challenge that I be more practically proactive I think the first rule of life is knowing what one can honestly contribute to a cause and what one cannot , Im not a particularly proactive person in a practical sense , never have been , not if you take me out of my strictly professional sphere . This blog is not a political party or movement , it is also not a boxing ring , it is a forum for opinions , My opinions may help some people understand a few things , but thats as far as my ambitions go !! I admire people like you that have the ambition and purportedly a capacity to change the world , but thats not my cup of tea.!!

    • Bill, if you are not able to be active on this, you better keep your opinions to yourself. It is not about praising. Criticizing without being active is just (non active opinion making, you might say) is simply
      disgusting and it is one of those qualities that have kept Venezuela behind:

      “someone has to do something, who am I to do it? I am not a world changer nor do I pretend to be one. And yet I come here to tell you what you and X and Z are doing is not enough”.

      Give me a break.

      • I will not give you a break , I dont have to abide by any model of human perfection your mind concoct for your own pleasure , As a person I am entitled to my opinions and to express them in this blog or anywhere else , I dont fancy my self a man of action in the political sense , thats my choice . What I can contribute ( if at all) is my own understanding of things including my judgement of your opinions . if you find them disgusting then skip them . i find my own position on this matter absolutely respectable . Romanticism thinks action is the only metier for human achievement , I am no romantic.

  22. Firepiggette: In answer to your request for a definition of smarts ( which is a term used by another blogger I whose opinion I was commenting ) I meant the following “smarts include many different qualities , the capacity to understand things , to judge on them with some degree of accuracy , to figure out what can be done to attempt to solve problems , and most difficult of all the capacity to effectively do what needs to be done in practice to solve or cope with those problems . Not every smart person is smart in all these different dimensions .” there are of course other possible definitions but this is the meaning of the term i was using .

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