Newsprint wars, memetic wars

This is what the newsprint deposit of Maracay’s El Siglo looks like. And they’re not the only paper in Venezuela with that problem.

Barquisimeto’s main newspaper El Impulso has announced that starting May 12th the paper will reduce its daily edition to only 8 pages. In an editorial, the paper explains the reason behind this drastic decision, putting the blame on one culprit: The Alfredo Maneiro Editorial Complex (CEAM), the State-owned provider of newsprint in the nation.

The creation of the Maneiro Editorial Complex, which buys the newsprint and then sell it to papers around the country, has turned this entity into a monopoly and has full authority to send supplies or not.

Starting several weeks ago, this paper’s management has attempted to make contact with this State company to find out if when we would be allowed to buy newsprint. Finally, on Friday May 8th, they responded: “We have no inventory of any type or any size.” The only hope left is for a new shipment to arrive next week, which could contain a new supply for El Impulso. However, bureaucratic obstacles would imply days of delays while the print arrives at our facilities.”

El Impulso has lived a situation like this before, but this time it feels different: Its main competitor El Informador is facing a crunch as well. Valencia’s El Carabobeño is already living on borrowed time. Maracay’s El Siglo, San Cristobal’s La Nacion and Guayana’s Correo del Caroni are all facing a pretty similar problem. But for the National Assembly there’s no issue. Neither is there one for State-owned papers, HegemonCorp. papers or for parallel press associations allied with CEAM– there is plenty of newsprint available for them.

Newsprint-geddon has reached a new stage: shutting down critical papers by starving them of what they need most. Even if the CEAM wants to excuse itself over unfulfilled promises, these actions are yet another part of the hegemony’s greater strategy. As I wrote days ago, it’s easier to repress than to create, and it’s no coincidence that 2014 was the worst year for free press in Venezuela in the last twenty years. But 2015 could easily surpass it.

But the hegemony thinks different. For them, people should be really worried about the “sixth-generation memetic war”. Yes – chavismo views Internet memes as an existential threat.

There are no enough “WTF” in the world to convey what I felt after reading that report. But read it at your own peril.