Last week, the government organized a high-profile conference about what they like to call “the media plot against Venezuela.” This was the usual blame-it-all-on-the-Evil-Empire gig, with a few minor power players and so-called international pundits on hand to bash the usual enemies. It also pointed to a heightened interest in clamping down whatever freedoms are left in the airwaves. The government is scared, and they are going after independent voices.
I could summarize what was discussed in this conference – covered wall-to-wall by State media -but that would be a waste of both my time and yours. These statements by Foreign Minister Elias Jaua and Libertador Mayor Jorge Rodriguez are enough to give you a taste. What I can do … is summarize it in a single sentence: “The CIA and foreign media hate Venezuela’s guts”. (Not Maduro’s guts, Venezuela’s guts)
This ain’t the first time they use this line of attack and it won’t be the last. One would be forgiven in thinking the whole conjura mediatica thing is just one of the government’s main excuses to avoid the country’s many problems, but it goes beyond that. This is basically the communicational hegemony’s raison d’etre. They actually believe in the conspiracy.
All the money and resources that have been spent on TV channels and newspapers instead of improving our power grid or building long-promised railways have to be justified somehow. And they won’t stop any time soon: the head of the Armed Forces Joint Command (Ceofanb), Vladimir Padrino announced the creation of the “Anti-Media-Plot Cyber-Command” in order to face what they call “fourth-generation warfare”. I thought they already have the best weapon of all to fight total cyberwar: our pretty horrible Internet speed connections.
Another recent development of the hegemony’s tightening grip over the media landscape is the new set of rules for cable and satellite TV operators. According to these rules, the State could simply force all cable carriers to include all the channels where they (the government) have any sort of “participation or interest”. The National Cable and Satellite TV association (CAVETESU) is very nervous and wanna talk the issue with CONATEL. It looks like its previous negotiations with the government were for naught.
As the State is doing its part, the privately-owned section of HegemonCorp. is doing its own. Its plan to dismantle Grupo Últimas Noticias is on the march, and it ranges from keeping major investigation articles away to laying off columnists. They have their sights set on Televen, the second-largest private TV channel in Venezuela. It seems that the everyday cadenas and the constant playing of the “Maduro es Pueblo” TV spots isn’t quite enough to put a damper on Maduro’s plummetting poll numbers.
Back at the conference, Vice-President Jorge Arreaza attacked several Hollywood celebrities like Madonna, Jared Leto and Kevin Spacey, and even dared to involve them as part of a coup.
Madonna, the coupster. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier around here.
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