Everyone and their mothers is implicated in the Hergueta murder

In a move that has surpassed even the most permissive standards of batshit lunacy, the Venezuelan government has published its definitive list of suspects linked to Patriota Cooperante José Pérez Venta’s murder and hacking-up of Liana Hergueta.

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Along with your everyday presidential assassins (María Corina Machado), arsonist coup mongers (Leopoldo López) and paramilitary fascists (Álvaro Uribe), newcomer scapegoats include U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio, and El Nacional owner Miguel Henrique Otero. 80’s soap opera star María Conchita Alonso is also thrown in for good measure.

As with every political scandal that Chavismo fabricates, “the sloppier the better” seems to be the operative phrase. It’s like SEBIN entrusts its 17-year-old intern to come up with this stuff between rounds of playing Angry Birds.

Look, I am deeply uncomfortable with the trivialization of the murder of a Venezuelan woman. But the government is plainly bent on making this unfathomable tragedy into a political affair. And commenting on political affairs is my job. It is beyond shameful that a person’s memory be defiled for the sake of partisan spectacle. I can’t not comment on the political implications of the way Liana’s case has been handled. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that a life has been lost, and loved ones are in pain.

None of these compunctions seem to affect the government. Gone are the days when even minimal effort was put into faking evidence, like the bogus emails that supposedly proved an opposition-led assassination plot conspiracy last year. (Weird how we never heard about that colossal threat to democracy ever again, isn’t it?)

This time around, connections between alleged suspects are as arbitrary as they are unsubstantiated: just throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see what sticks.

And while slander and incrimination might be a fun way for Chavista propagandists to pass the time in their evil lairs, you have to wonder what the practical, measurable, added value to their agenda is, given the government’s increasingly scarce resources.

Will this translate into votes?

I can’t see how.

One thing’s for sure: what chavismo-sponsored defamation lacks in sophistication, it definitely makes up for in distribution channels. The infographic you see above belongs to Ciudad CCS, an unapologetically propagandist daily financed by the Libertador Municipal Government. It circulates, free of charge, in government-friendly communities. (I tried and failed to find one in 15 kiosks throughout Eastern Caracas.)

The person who gave me this clipping, a middle-class opposition voter, was handed the paper while riding public transportation. When he read it, his immediate, incredulous and vocal reaction was “¡¡Qué Bolas!!…all that’s missing here is Kermit the Frog.”

His fellow passenger replied, with visceral conviction, “I hope all these assholes land in jail.”

That this particular passenger’s voting intent could be swayed by such an asinine disinformation campaign, despite his more pressing economic woes, is bad enough, but not surprising. After all, he’s long been bombarded with a relentless hegemonic campaign of brainwashing. But does this one piece of propaganda make a difference on the margin? I just don’t think it will make much difference come election day.

What most disturbs me is how chavismo’s strangle-hold on public opinion has basically obliterated this passenger’s capacity and willingness to judge facts for himself, regardless of political allegiance. How it has destroyed his interest in determining how he will ultimately consume reality.

This legacy of profound disrespect towards the individual is something opposition candidates must understand, if their promises of Change are to actually transcend the immediacy of elections.

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