Did you hear? Apparently, there is a plan in place to shut down Aporrea. We know because it says so right there in Aporrea. The plan, it seems, is to starve the site of funds now that it’s gone all critical, choking it into submission. They speak arepa too, it seems, and so you either gingerly dismount the mule or you hate freedom of speech:

If you are against penning in the media, whether in private hands or in the bureaucratic hands of the State, if you want to support the self-directed and autonomous communication of the people and alternative, independent journalism, as well as critique, and free debate within the ambit of the process of change in Venezuela, give us a hand and some support using your credit card.

Si estás contra los cercos mediáticos, tanto el de medios privados, como el burocrático de Estado, y quieres apoyar la comunicación autónoma del pueblo, el periodismo alternativo independiente, la crítica y el debate libre en el marco del proceso de cambios venezolano, échanos una manito a través de un aporte económico con tu tarjeta de crédito.

It’s hard to suppress a certain level of rage as you read that. Aporrea is, of course, the very last man standing in Martin Niemöller’s poem. They were gloriously silent when the regime came for RCTV, utterly quiescent when Conatel bullied and hounded Globovision, mute as a stone when radio station after radio station was shut down for dissent, coldly impassible when Diosdado started buying newspapers through testaferros…and now they expect us all to rise up and speak for them.

Erm…it doesn’t work that way, guys.

But it’s in the inside pages that the loopiness reaches its peak. There we find Jesús Silva, in one of the more gloriously unselfaware and contradictory pieces I’ve seen in Aporrea so far this year  – and trust me the competition for that distinction is ferocious – superficially defending freedom of speech as such but also, when you poke at it more carefully, really just defending Aporrea’s right to speak on the basis that they are the real revolutionaries.

Keep track of the media and notice the blackout imposed on those who participate regularly on this site, even though so many facts can only be found out through us, and elsewhere chavistas have no way of finding out. It’s a disservice to the revolution done by some “alleged revolutionaries” who abhor the democratic discussion of ideas and keep abusing their power, and often it’s not even the bosses who are to blame, but the yes-men around them, the gophers who work for the bosses, they’re the worse. [Translator’s note: Syntax is even more mangled in the original – I’m sparing you a tsunami of “sics” here to keep it borderline readable.]

Hágase un monitoreo de los medios de comunicación y nótese el veto a quienes hacen vida permanente en esta página, muchas cosas sólo se saben por esta vía y en otros lados los chavistas no tienen posibilidad de enterarse. Flaco servicio hacen a la revolución unos presuntos revolucionarios que aborrecen la discusión democrática de ideas y siguen aportando al uso abusivo del poder, muchas veces ni siquiera ellos son los jefes, sino más bien los jalamecates y “lleva y trae” que trabajan para los jefes, esos son los peores.

Did you catch that?

It’s because Aporrea serves the revolution that “the democratic discussion of ideas” it hosts deserves the right to be published. It’s not about the service rendered to the country, or to the reader, or to the truth, no no. Free speech exists to serve the revolution. Which does rather imply that those brutes who do not render service to the revolution – we’re looking right at you, presuntos revolucionarios – have no right to speak. (And if Jesús Silva had a Conatel Magic Wand in his hand, who really thinks they’d be allowed to?)  

But remember: you have to give Aporrea money, sabes, si estás contra los cercos mediáticos.

It’s staggering how little these people have learned.


 

Reading all this, I couldn’t help but think back to my political science classes in the mid 90s. At the time, there was a narrative making the academic rounds about the third wave democratization in Latin America, as country after country, particularly in the Southern Cone, shed dictatorship and transitioned to democracy. As the story went, this wasn’t just about the decline and fall of the Eastern Bloc communist regimes, it was also about the way the Left had changed its attitude towards civil and political rights – and in particular towards freedom of speech.

Traditional Marxism, lest we forget, didn’t have any time for such bourgeois conceits. Freedom of speech meant little to people committed to the idea that classes had interests and the clash between those interests was the sole driving force in history. Ideas in general were “epiphenomena” – rhetorical window dressing unable to change the structural facts of the class struggle. The ideas workers had in their heads were either objectively right – that is, Marxist – or they were expressions of “false consciousness”: seeded there by the ruling class through its manipulation of the media, the church, and other organs of social control. The bourgeois fixation with defending the right to spread false-consciousness freely seemed to Marxists obviously perverse.

The perception on the left was that “freedom of speech” was just another of the ideological weapons the ruling class uses to divide and oppress the workers. In the 1970sl, that was the consensus position in the Latin American Marxist left.

But the brutality of the Bureaucratic Authoritarian regimes that came to power in the Southern Cone in the 1970s, beginning with the 1973 coup in Chile, set into motion a long, arduous rethink of the left’s hidebound Marxist orthodoxy. Being on the receiving end of the full repressive force of some absolutely ghastly regimes jolted them into a rethink.

Seeing your friends and comrades hunted down, tortured and killed in large numbers for saying things the powerful did not want said has a way of causing you to re-evaluate the importance of freedom of speech. 

Chile was again in the vanguard. In the 1988 plebiscite campaign, progressive forces began to appropriate the language of civil and political rights, positioning themselves for the first time as against all dictatorships, not in favor of the dictatorship of the proletariat. As important sectors of the left began to own the language of civil and political rights for the first time, the stakes for more conservative forces were ratcheted down. Gradually, a space for democratic transition opened as the right began to tentatively explore the possibilities that the left could enter the political sphere without threatening an outright reversion to Castrocommunism.

But, of course, none of this happened in Venezuela. However much chavismo tries to spin the Puntofijo era’s DISIP into a kind of Gestapo, the reality is that we had a consensual political system with wide leeway for ideological difference and plenty of room for contestation and debate. A whole stratum of the state – the public universities – was handed over to the left to use as a place for it to talk about itself with itself on its own terms. That Venezuelan far leftists allow themselves to believe they were as strongly prosecuted as leftists in, say, Argentina, speaks to their loss of any sense of proportion or reality under the onslaught of Chávez era propaganda.

Venezuela didn’t go through what the Southern Cone went through. We had oil, so we could just skip this whole messy business about major insurgencies leading to reactionary dictatorships leading to brutal repression leading to a reappraisal of the rights agenda by the left. There was a whole episode of society-wide learning (and, more specifically, of learning-within-the-left) that just never took place in Venezuela. And still hasn’t taken place, as you can see plainly over on Aporrea.org

Venezuela has always been weirdly out of sync with much of Latin America on these issues, and looks likely to remain so. In a way, we’re undergoing the mirror-image of the learning process the Southern Cone left underwent in the 1970s and 80s. In Venezuela, it’s the center-right of the political spectrum that’s found itself facing a ruthless, brutal regime aggressively hostile towards its rights.

We’re the ones who’ve been violently shaken out of our complacency on the absolutely vital necessity of a robust defense of civil and political rights. It’s our generation of anti-communists that will never, ever be able to watch others being silenced for petty ideological gain without rising in protest.

Which is why, however much it sticks in the throat to say so, I’m forced to conclude that Venezuela’s public sphere would be badly diminished if Aporrea was taken offline. Maddeningly obtuse as its writers may be, it is true that it’s remained the one place you can reliably turn to for pro-government-but-not-government-controlled discourse.

We’ve seen too much shit these last few years to wish Aporrea shut down. Nobody deserves to be censored on ideological grounds. If we haven’t learned that, we haven’t learned anything.

But let’s not volvernos locos here, either: if you’re thinking of giving money to a Venezuelan politics website, you have much better options.

42 COMMENTS

  1. Aporrea is nothing like Niemoller’s silent man. You’d be hard pressed to find a contributor in that page that didn’t attempt to justify the takeover of news networks and print media, or that didn’t celebrate censorship against these communication outlets, or worse still, that didn’t criticize the government for not doing enough to silence opposition voices.
    However, we’d be no better than their bosses for applauding their shutdown. It’s an appropriate comeuppance for them, but Quico is right. Freedom of Speech isn’t and should never be selective.

  2. I find it really ironic. But well, Aporrea has always had absurd far left arguments. It’s no surprise they’ve pleaded for their survival in this way.

  3. If Aporrea is allowed to continue to exist without further hand-outs (gasp!), and doesn’t get enough dollares from the VISAs of its loyal readers, where will it go to seek funding? Through advertising? Is it even possible that there are any rojo-rojito profit-making machines out there? Or is that a total oxymoron?

    p.s. Good logic, Quico.

    • Aparte … What do the board of directors of any one rojo-rojito profitable business talk about, anyway? How much they hate the oligarchy? I’d love to be a fly on the wall during any of these meetings…

  4. There is no way that a venezuelan political movement can long remain undivided and unfractured by contesting and conflicting factionalism , specially after 16 years in power and the death of the man that created the movement. Aporrea is the tip of an iceberg of discontent which is welling up within Chavismo and which the govt is trottling and persecuting and gaggling with every means at its disposal . Of course the dearth of resources to distribute among its followers is contributing to making the Chavista discontent more visible , now many chavistas dont have to defend their regime dependent ‘arepa’. Well probably see more of these in the near future.!!

  5. First quote from Aporrea:

    “If you are against the circles of big media, whether in private hands or in the bureaucratic hands of the State, if you want to support the self-directed and autonomous communication of the people and alternative, independent journalism, as well as critique, and free debate within the ambit of the process of change in Venezuela, give us a hand and some support using your credit card.”

  6. Banco Central just sued DolalTudey on a Delaware court. That’s gonna be fun to watch, the Circus goes on, get your Philadelphia tickets while they last. Hope Craporrea is next., but with judge Barreiros.

    The case is Banco Central De Venezuela v. DolarToday LLC, 15-cv-00965, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

  7. Second quote from Aporrea:

    “Check out the communications media and note the censorship of those who have taken up permanent residence on these pages. Many things can only be discovered by reading these pages, which Chavistas cannot find out any other way. So-called revolutionaries who want to erase democratic discussion of ideas, who continue to support the abuse of power, provide weak service to the revolution. Many times, they are not even the leaders, they are more like the toadies, the go-fers, who work for the bosses, they are the worst of all.”

  8. No mentions about making a drinking game for every syntax, spelling and punctuation error in Aporrea’s “opinion articles” and how you could die from cirrhosis by reading the first paragraph of every article published there??? 6/10

  9. Also, you should read this little gem from Oscar “New Zealand has a higher crime rate than Venezuela” Heck http://www.aporrea.org/medios/a215937.html
    The best part of this is “2) Los artículos de opinión en Aporrea, como en cualquier parte del mundo donde existe la democracia, son solamente opiniones, y eso se debería respetar. Es decir, si a alguien no le gusta las opiniones de Jesús Silva R., entonces que no lea los artículos de opinión de Jesús Silva R. Si a alguien dentro del gobierno no le gusta lo que yo digo, entonces que no me lea.” I seriously can’t tell if he’s that much of a hypocrite or simply an idiot, Poe’s law doesn’t even begin to describe what’s happening in Venezuela.

    • that is beautiful. did you also see the time some Aporreador criticized the MUD and called them ‘pathetic’ for celebrating that hasthtag they created on Twitter turned TT?

      • Nope, but it wouldn’t surprise me really, comming from the same people who have a paid “web propaganda” (if you want to calll it that) group that harrasses dissidents online and uses multiple fake accounts to favorite/retweet stupid shit like #yonocomproendolartoday… and yes, that was an actual hashtag these retards created…

  10. Too much of whats published in the internet consists of insults and attacks rather than the development of the ideas and opinions of those that write for it. Its as if what people relish most about their postings is being able to display their anger and rage against a satanized target , viscerally venting their spleen . Too much rant too little reflection. There is a gladiatorial or contentious flourish to internet messages that impoverishes its possibilties for reasoned dialogue and intellectual depth.

    Whenever St Paul entered a town , he was recieved with the attacks of contending religious views , he never bothered to polemize with them , instead he concentrated on preaching his own messages or views, so that his audience might judge it on its own merits.

    Thats whats missing in Aporrea and in other blogs , note that their message is always against something or someone, before the target was the opposition , now its the behaviour of their own former idols.

  11. I don’t get this story. You quote from their page that asks for donations, just like your site asks for donations.
    Where is there any account of the government threatening to shut them down?
    Why do you have no links or videos of the supposed threat?
    You need to come up with more, otherwise you look like you are just making stuff up

  12. You are far too generous. This is a site for the deluded that painted this giant criminal enterprise as some kind of moral beacon. Let them take a stroll for once through the ‘market of ideas’ in Venezuela. Empty shelves…

  13. This is OT, but:

    With Chrome and Firefox on my PC, several icons on this page aren’t shown correctly, e.g. the social media icons above the article or the icons in the navbar. Either Unicode placeholders or Japanese symbols are shown instead.

    It looks like the ‘Newspaper’ font isn’t loading. The browser console also shows the following error message:

    “Font from origin ‘http://caracaschronicles.com’ has been blocked from loading by Cross-Origin Resource Sharing policy: No ‘Access-Control-Allow-Origin’ header is present on the requested resource. Origin ‘http://caracaschronicles.com’ is therefore not allowed access.”

    Additionally, links barely stand out from the text – text is black, while links are dark brown.

  14. Quico, the you are as usual right on target. The whole victimization of the chavista dissidence is lame, and given all the bridges they tore down, is very hard to have any sympathy. The oppo media loves the chavista dissidence because in a way, is like realizing that one has been right all along and they have been wrong.

    Where I have to disagree is your brief summary of the Southamerican left, particuarly in Venezuela. The whole summary really doesn’t contribute to the article and I am not sure why it is there. My problem with it is that it is inaccurate. It has been Venezuela that has been leading the progressive camp and not Chile. Please don’t take this as self-pandering or nationalism because it isn’t. Venezuela’s left adopted the language and the claims on the civil rights movement way before it happened in other places. Let’s start with the fact that Betancourt was a communist and so were many of those in his generation. The early left embraced democratic ideas from the beginning and didn’t bother with marxism’s paradigms of exploitation and alienation. Instead focused in a justice-based agenda. Equal rights for all citizens. Let me remind you that AD (el partido revolucionario) had a reform agenda that spanned from universal suffrage to universal healthcare. Creative social programs were implemented left and right. Pretty progressive left if you ask me. Some argue that it is because of oil and its urbanizing effects that allowed for this. Oil was the cause for our rise and fall.

    It was Perez Jimenez the one you need to compare to Pincochet. Not Chavez. Chavismo and the establishment of the imbecile left is new in LA is a new thing. And a consequences of being unable to modernize our economies (something Asians seems to be doing successfully). Political philosophers think, that Venezuela is leading the way, and how we resolve our current political (cultural?) crisis will set a precedent for the rest of the hemisphere.

    Also, pinning this cultural crisis as a LA thing is short sighted. Greece, Spain and the UK seems to be going through similar crisis.

  15. “It was Perez Jimenez the one you need to compare to Pinochet. Not Chavez.”

    Well, I like to compare all 3. And even throw in some 4ta Republica in, just for kicks. For as terrible and maligned MPJ and Pinochet were, you have to wonder where Vzla would be after 17 years of MPJ (when the economy and currency were at their strongest, and much of today’s infrastructure was built), or after 17 “horrible” years of Pinochet:

    Chile: 17 years of “right-wing” Dictatorship: 3000 dead, best country in Latin America, by far.
    Vzla: 17 years of “left-wing” Cleptocracy : 250,000 dead, among worst countries in the world.

    Not to mention Vzla after 40 years of the following type of “horrible, murderous dictatorship”, instead of Chavismo and Ad/Copey combined :

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-32028693

    Going forward, I don’t think any form of Chavista-light “socialist” MUDcrap will be much different.

    • Singapore’s model is hardly possible elsewhere, Singapore is a city-state, not a large country with 30 million people spread across cities, rural areas, mountains, jungles, etc.

      • Ok, how about a sabroso Criollo blend of Singapore’s examples that many countries have emulated, Big Carrot Big Stick style, plus a bit of Pinochet’s social security and Copper Industry reforms applied to whatever’s left of PDVSA, some of MPJ uncanny construction prowess, with Leopoldo as president?

        Or you can settle for a delightful ad/copey/chavistamudblend with Capriles, public PDVSA, public Corpoelec, etc.

  16. After this wine wears off, I’m going to hate myself in the morning:

    Dear Mr. Silva,

    I don’t understand and am perplexed that “Whack” has lost money from its Venezuelan government sponsorship. It’s unfair, particularly in light of your paper’s absolute endorsement of the Madura’s team successful government.

    On the contrary it sure seems like your paper supports everything Madura does, including shortages of medicine, imprisonment of opponents, lines for staples, high murder rates, etc.
    I would say you should have pride in your support of Madura. What’s not to love and emulate?
    However, I’m sorry that I have no money to send you guys. I went to the bank and they wouldn’t give me Bolivars. I will try again.
    Best wishes,

    Kathryn
    Sent from my iPad

  17. Hi, I’m a journalism student from the University of Hong Kong, and I’m looking for on the ground sources in Venezuela for one of my projects. Would any of you be interested in answering some questions about the news and current sociopolitical situation in Venezuela? Please drop me a message at liviayap@connect.hku.hk Thank you!

  18. “Only I have the right to have rights, only my rights count, so I have the right to use ANY method to achieve them.”

    Classic chavista phrase, hypocrisy at its best, if somebody decides to fall for their swindle and pay them, go ahead, that’s their money, they choose what to do with it, but for me, they can sink in the bolivarian quicksands a little more, it’s now their problem, they are now just some other used napkins at this point.

  19. I read Aporrea regularly, pa sentirle el pulso al enemigo.

    What I find is mostly a zoo of jingoistic drones with little regard for logic. One wonders how many will hold the line when things go bad and which are the real fanatics that will die for their cause.

    As of late they have taken a position of ‘holier than though’ when criticizing Madurismo. The way to fix this is to ‘profundizar la revolucion’, which is the typical answer of any religious fanatic. They clearly express that elections, free press and private property are unnecessary bourgeois conceits. Ultimately “though shall not have other gods but” the nebulous revolution.

    Now regular contributors Nicmer Evans and Jesus Silva are the real dangerous duo. Their writing is above average for Aporreadores culture and intelligence. But what blows my mind are the acrobatics in logic that they go through to try to position themselves. Guys like this are trying to surf the waves of the sinking Chavistas to position themselves into its future resurrection. And resurrect they will, if the history of Latin America is any example, we only hope that democratic institutions are strong enough to curtail their natural authoritarianism.

  20. “…Now regular contributors Nicmer Evans and Jesus Silva are the real dangerous duo. Their writing is above average for Aporreadores culture and intelligence. But what blows my mind are the acrobatics in logic that they go through to try to position themselves. Guys like this are trying to surf the waves of the sinking Chavistas to position themselves into its future resurrection. And resurrect they will, if the history of Latin America is any example, we only hope that democratic institutions are strong enough to curtail their natural authoritarianism….”

    Sorry, what Democracy and what Institutions are you referring to Renacuajo67? Funny.

    • Touche 🙂

      The assumption is that Chavismo falls, democracry is re-established and 20 years down the road Chavismo wins an election. I am thinking Alan Garcia in Peru, the worse government in Latin America before Maduro, relected in 2005 to a more muzzled form.

  21. All fine and dandy, Aporrea deserves every criticism throw their way. But let’s not act like this website is some sort of Plato’s Academy resurrected.I see the same echo-chamber effect, profound misunderstanding and scorn for the “other” and plain political naivete here. Sure, it is a different environment: English-speaking, pro-US and tertiary-educated, but at the end it is just another group of similar minded people looking after their interests and wishing the world suits their needs, which it is OK, but it is laughable to question the other side for doing the same. And no, the other side are not the 2000 or so kleptomaniacs in power, it is the people who does not like Maria Corina or Leopoldo, cannot stand Julio Borges smugness and think Ismael Garcia is a much as a crook no matter which color he may be wearing.

    I hope,by the way, that this last group would help to kick out Maduro and bury Chavismo for ever, but I shudder to think this will only cause the country fall into the hands of the average opposition leader.

    • Who is acting like this is some sort of Plato’s academy resurrected? It certainly is not, nothing is, but are you seriously suggesting CC is on par with Aporrea? To suggest CC and Aporrea are just two sides of the same coin is either ignorant or dishonest.

      I don’t recall writers on this site cheering or justifying human rights violations , the destruction of checks and balances or separations of powers, etc.

    • “I see the same echo-chamber effect, profound misunderstanding and scorn for the “other”…”

      This characterization is for the most part unfair.

      “… it is just another group of similar minded people looking after their interests and wishing the world suits their needs…”

      Well that sounds straight out from an Aporrea column. Your opinion of people is very bleak and ultimately wrong. I think you’ve taken Nietzsche’s Übermensch idea too far.

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