Quico Talks with Efecto Cocuyo's Laura Weffer

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  1. From the present time, how many years will be need to reach a stable state so we can be comparable with our neighborhoods countries?

  2. Sería interesante preguntarle sobre el proceso de toma de decisiones del gobierno—en particular si el poder está centralizado en Maduro, y si los militares, Diosdado, y Cuba realmente juegan un rol. Creo que muchas personas tienen algunas intuiciones vagas sobre las dinámicas internas del Chavismo pero nadie las entiende bien. Creo que este tema podría ser de gran interés para los lectores del blog.

  3. I am mainly interested in sustainability of their project. How do they fund themselves? Is their business viable or do they need to beg for money to stay afloat? How do they deal with government pressure? Are people interested in what they have to say? What is their readership? I realize I might be asking too much, but my general concern is this: if most (news website) startups fail, would the risk not be that much higher in Venezuela?

  4. My query would address the question of whether there is an overall govt strategy for the long term or are they just making wild jumps to stay one step beyond the wolfs claws !!

    Also whether their strategy relates to my own conjecture that they have two basic goals and that everything else is secondary ,

    one to keep the minimal level of popular support they need to be able to fake that they have the masses enthusiastic support , by maintaining enought imports flowing in so that the needs of their normal constituency continue to be sattisfied as much as possible . (everybody else go hang) .

    two: to avoid a default on their external financial debt which might bring the whole economy down.!!

  5. I am interested in how journalists work in a quasi-totalitarian state. For example: 30 or 40 inmates, on a hunger strike in David Vilorio prison, ended up dead late last year. The government made a claim that it was all due to the hunger strikers drinking poisoned alcohol. After that, nothing. No reports of autopsies, no eyewitness info from inmates who have completed their sentences, nothing. How can anyone be sure the government version is true without examination of the evidence? Can journalists access anything beyond the Official Story?

  6. What’s the likelihood of the govt and the opposition building some sort of consensus that would work to diffuse the deep political divide and tone down the unhealthy, divisive rhetoric and political language? What will it take to realize that the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ arrangement is a failure, and that a political culture whose objective is to exclude or even annihilate the other side is doomed. Would a negotiation model similar to the peace talks in Colombia be an option in Venezuela?

  7. Hmmmm. A lot of these questions won’t really work: Laura’s a reporter, not a political analyst. She’s not going to sit there and bloviate LVL style, it’s outside her code of ethics.

    I’ll use Jeff’s though, which definitely will work.

  8. Is the market for people looking for independent, professional journalism by Venezuelans about Venezuela and who are prepared to pay for it inevitably a small and unusual niche group, or does anything they have experienced to date, beyond the well deserved praise and supportive words, indicate that we should be more optimistic?

  9. ¿Alguna evidencia en el ambiente de la fuentes oficiales de que ésta sea percibida cómo una crisis terminal? ¿algo ha cambiado en las fuentes del chavismo en el último año? ¿menos disciplina? ¿más propensión a hablar y tender puentes?

    Yo les preguntaría que les dice su olfato periodístico sobre la narrativa de que ésta es una crisis terminal, o eso es puro güishful sinquin?

  10. Questions? Where do I start?

    – Do they have reliable sources within the regime?

    – Can she provide any insights on the relative cohesiveness of the regime?

    – Are they (the regime) pursuing a long-term strategy, or are they simply putting out fires on a day-to-day basis?

    – Do they have good sources within the Opposition?

    – Is he Opposition as rudderless and haphazard as they appear, or is there any evidence of actual strategy?

    – Is Efecto Cocuyo targeting the Venezuelan domestic audience only, or the international audience as well?

    – In their conversations with international journalists, how good is the comprehension of the foreign press about what is really happening in Venezuela?

  11. I firmly believe that the CC/EC/GC/DE/et. al. Ven. info websites DO make a difference in that they are read by some in local/US/international decision-making/-influencing positions, as really some of the few “public” info sources on reliable news in Venezuela. However, how does one trickle that news down in a meaningful/understandable way to the largely unread/semi-literate Venezuelan electorate so that it might have an important electoral effect some day?

    • I think all these sites should do the same thing Yoani Sánchez did at her blog: to offer English and Spanish versions of the content. If possible, even including other languages widely spread in the West. The more languages, the better!

      To speak only to Venezuelan expats and “some in local/US/international decision-making” is not enough.

      • Good idea but translation is expensive, and these folks are still badly in need of funding, last time I looked.

        I’d add, Yoani Sanchez is not a journalist and although what she does is interesting, admirable and important, it is essentially a labour of love (or something like that), like what the folks at this blog do. To do real journalism, people need a paycheck.

        I hope more people will contribute to this new enterprise, otherwise, the best coverage we are going to see -with one or two exceptions- is financed by foreigners and primarily targeted at people working in the petroleum and financial sectors who are advising on risk.

        • “Good idea but translation is expensive, and these folks are still badly in need of funding.(…) To do real journalism, people need a paycheck.”

          Yes, they do need funding, and they can use donations, google AdSense, crowdfunding etc. to have that funding. Then, they can pay a company like Babylon to professionally translate to either Spanish or English their most important and relevant texts.

          Babylon’s price is $0.16 per word, so a text with 1000 words (fairly big) would cost $160 to be transated. It’s not an absurd price when we consider that Venezuela has such a big, rich and well-educated community overseas. And “real journalism” is not only the investigative kind, opinionated articles like CC does most of the times is “real journalism” too.

          http://translator.babylon.com/

        • To contribute to an enterprise, one normally needs to see a product.

          And those creating the start-up enterprise have to know that they need to invest an inordinate amount of time just to produce a business plan, let alone a prototype or a product that will attract such contributions. They have to know that loss leaders are critical to bring in the business, so to speak.

          It’s not enough to go out to the marketplace (be that via CC, twitter, etc.) and say: “Hey, here we are! And we want to do serious journalism. How about contributing?”

          Also, I don’t know if contributions from ordinary citizens are enough. Hence the need for advertising. But then advertising needs readership, needs a proven circulation base to make their advertising dollars work.

          I wish EC much luck and success.

      • To do so, they have to have a decent translator of English, and not everyone with valid reporting does or can acquire one…

        I like to compare what El Universal publishes in Spanish and in English to see if there’s anything important that is omitted; particularly since El Universal English is likely more widely read outside of Venezuela than in, it might be a barometer of what is/isn’t reported and accessible journalism for foreigners. Then I saw this….and giggled and giggled because of what the headline would mean to most gringos. 16% more people detained in flagrante delicto in Venezuela in 2014

        They are at least putting something out in English.

  12. Perhaps you could ask her what she thinks of the involvement of Colombian media in Venezuela. In many cases you see that Colombian media gets more coverage than local sources, to the complaints of some Colombians that this is done to distract us from our problems. Maybe she could tell us about the interaction with Colombian and foreign media given the difficult environment for Venezuelan news outlets.

  13. Ask her if I should I close my business and give up. Ask her if its time to quit, throw in the towel and start making a new life elsewhere.

      • No, that is not at all clear. In risk, lies opportunity. Those who are here at the very beginning of the recovery will have marvelous opportunities. The risk is, of course, losing everything invested to expropriation, looting, etc… It is a tough call. For me, it is not the risk of capital that rankles, so much as the waste of productive time, while waiting.

        • Oh, I agree with you there, Roy. There is a lot of people making a killing in Venezuela as we write. But money can’t keep you away from the higher probability of either criminality, or scarcity, or corruption, or decay, and pretty much everything else Venezuela is known for these days to hit you.

          That is indeed a very personal decision. I can only speak for myself when I say I wouldn’t go back to live in Venezuela (or Brazil, for that matter) for anything. My 7 year-old son deserves opportunities earned by hard work, not by knowing the “right” person, selling his soul or having to put up with the general Venezuelan shitness.

          • You misunderstand me. I am not making any money now. I do not care to engage in the type of business that makes money in Venezuela today. Lot’s of reasons for that, but it boils down to I sleep well at night and want to keep it that way. I was referring to the opportunities to invest in and participate in the reconstruction of the country, after the current group of criminals are no longer in charge.

          • The problem is that both the regime and opposition are giving off signals that would terrify anyone thinking of DFI aside from perhaps the oil companies and even they are only trickling in what is needed to keep things going. No one wants to invest in Venezuela and no one will want to do so for the foreseeable future.

            I agree the opportunities and the potential are vast. Given the levels of incompetence and corruption endemic to the country, what would be the discount rate at which you would expect an asset to perform before you get the return you require? 30%? 50% 200%?

            I keep hearing people talk with this near-delusional state that things will get better almost overnight if/when chavismo falls from power. I just don’t see that happening, possibly within my lifetime.

  14. It would be useful if the focus was on media censorhip – to what extent are Venezuelans *not* getting their news anymore?

    Also, how was the experience of asking for money in Petare? What did people say?

    • You better ask 10 to 20 relatives or friends living in poor to lower middle class areas in different average cities of Venezuela (i.e. outside Caracas, Maracaibo and Valencia).

      And Internet access there is collapsing by the day.

  15. Todo el proyecto (desde el nombre y el lema) suena muy “cuchi”, pero poco sustentado en la realidad, y eso es tan evidente que es hasta tierno. Por ejemplo, ¿cómo pueden los venezolanos que aún viven en Venezuela, que serían el primer “público cautivo”, contribuir con ellos si las contribuciones están fijadas, de entradita y sin empacho, en dólares? ¿Es eso realista? ¿No es un poco “sifrino” y alejado de la realidad sobre la que pretenden dar luz? ¿No era más lógico dar la opción de contribuir también en bolívares para que el acceso de la gente fuera más general y “democrático”? Además de “cuchi”, el proyecto parece excesivamente ambicioso, ¿Qué harán si no alcanzan sus objetivos económicos? ¿Devolverán las contribuciones o, a la criolla, “se harán los locos”? Si consiguen los fondos para funcionar, así sea a medias, el primer año, ¿cómo harán con el segundo y el tercero? ¿Lo pensaron realmente a largo plazo o lo hicieron, a la Eudomar Santos: “como vaya viniendo vamos viendo”? ¿Es esto realmente un “emprendimiento” (palabra usada un poco al garete en estos tiempos) o simplemente una aventura desesperada ante la realidad, por otra parte ineludible, del ahogo de los medios? ¿Pueden explicar qué significa “periodismo independiente” realmente, y, además, por un medio restringido en su alcance y penetración como la internet? Verbigracia: Caracas Chronicles tiene casi tantos años como el régimen, un prestigio bien ganado y bastantes lectores, pero ¿ha generado alguna ganancia económica? ¿No es un poco cándido, por no decir pretencioso, creer que pueden mantener el “equilibrio informativo” en una sociedad donde todo está desequilibrado y la mayor parte de los medios televisivos, radiales e incluso impresos están en manos del gobierno o sus secuaces, y eso acompañado de una propaganda brutal y bien pensada? Por último: los contenidos que han generado hasta ahora no difieren demasiado de los de otras páginas de información que tienen, sea años en el mercado, sea soporte publicitario, como Contrapunto, por mencionar una de las nuevas. ¿Cómo piensan diferenciarse de los demás,más allá de la “cuchitura” y las buenas intenciones?

    • Es mas sustentable un proyecto pagado por quienes se reciben la informacion(ej. periodicos en japon viven de los pagos de sus suscriptores) que un proyecto pagado por anunciantes diversos (muchos medios que estan en via de extincion). A mi parece buen proyecto y con gusto doy mi apoyo economico para apoyarlo.

    • “Caracas Chronicles tiene casi tantos años como el régimen, un prestigio bien ganado y bastantes lectores, pero ¿ha generado alguna ganancia económica?”

      Excuse me while I choke on my Corn Flakes.

    • Venezuela is sinking in reasons why it is more practical and sensible to do nothing. I get that. The pessimists have the genius of prediction these days.

      What I don’t get is the bitterness and condescension towards people who are trying to do something. People who are in a position to make a modest contribution on this project would take a risk on say, a bottle of wine that could turn out to be *just like the others*, without a second thought, and with much less information available to them, I suspect.

  16. Q: ¿Cómo ves el rol de las redes sociales en el contexto de obtener o confirmar información de difícil acceso y en la difundir información dentro del esquema de la hegemonía comunicacional? ¿es una herramienta valiosa, o limitada en la práctica? ¿Piensas que el uso de las redes sociales para obtener y difundir información es un fenómeno confinado a ciertas clases sociales en Venezuela (digamos, media, media-alta, o alta), o es en verdad un fenómeno masivo?

  17. Otra pregunta: un poco siguiendo el tema de la “adoctrinación” producto de la hegemonía comunicacional, ¿no crees que hay algo de esto en la estrategia comunicacional de los medios de oposición? es decir… hay unos cuantos dogmas dentro de la oposición, y dentro de los medios de oposición, que pueden ser igual de endebles que los que promueve el oficialismo. ¿Crees que Efecto Cocuyo tenga un rol en “desmitificar” estos dogmas, pero que pueda encontrarse enemigos dentro de la oposición por esto?

  18. Gente, traten de enterarse qué tipo de acceso tienen los venezolanos a esas mágicas redes sociales fuera de esas aglomeraciones donde solo vive un 20% de la población.

    La señal se les cae a cada rato y pasan sin nada durante días cuando las cosas se ponen más tensas.

  19. Lamentable la caída de la señal. Obviamente hace falta mucha eficiencia en la comunicación para aprovechar los pocos minutos de señalización confiable. De lo demás, existe este foro para que EC conteste las preguntas que se le ha hecho. Estamos a la espera. O las preguntas pueden formar parte de un artículo de EC, donde se atreve a contestarlas, sin necesidad de hablar del tanto apoyo que ha recibido, inclusive por medio de poemas.

  20. I don’t know Laura Weffer personally, but she seems like good company, a person who loves her job and will stop at nothing to do it in the best way possible. What a breath of fresh air.

  21. Todos vemos desde hace mas de 15 annos como se ha deteriorado la calidad de vida del venezolano; en todos lo sentidos: Educacion, salud, seguridad jurídica, acesso a bienes y servicios en general, etc, etc. Y eso ahora incluye el acceso a la información; a información oportuna y veraz, sin cesura. En otros países medios informativos como Efecto Cocuyo puede significar otro mas. Ahora mismo en Venezuela medios alternativos como Efecto Cocuyo son una salvaci’on, una ventana para libertad de expresión y al derecho que tenemos como ciudadanos a estar informados, sin manipulaciones y sin miedo a expresar lo que pensamos. Debemos entender que medios como ‘este son la única opción para saber lo que que pasa en nuestro país. Estamos dispuestos a apoyarlos o no? Si la respuesta es no “calate” VTV, Aporrea, TVES y afines. Si la respuesta es Si, vamos… colabora con el periodismo independiente, YO si quiero estar informado.

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