This piece by Reuters’s Alexandra Ulmer and Girish Gupta may be the most depressing thing you read all week:

What arrests? Some Venezuelans in the dark about drugs scandal

The arrest of two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives to face charges of cocaine smuggling was an international embarrassment for him and his socialist government.

At home, however, plenty of Venezuelans have not even heard about the arrests in Haiti or the subsequent U.S. indictments, with local papers largely ignoring the story and citizens more concerned with finding food and medicines amid severe shortages.

“I had no idea!” said 21 year-old biology student Grecia Mayor, eyes widening as she stood in front of a Caracas supermarket.


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  1. The control over the media might be the biggest thing chavismo has done. That also includes their pseudo religious propaganda that plagues the country. Often wonder why Maduro’s approval isn’t lower? This is why.

  2. That’s right. They did it slowly, deliberately, and with impeccable planning and execution, this one big thing. And the most frightening part: it worked!

  3. Mobile phones are as common in Venezuela as McDonalds french fries are in other countries. Everyone is busy texting or shouting in to their handsets unaware that they have access to one of the most powerful communication tools available today.
    Each time I spend time there I’m amazed at the absolute crap that fills my cellular’s memory. I get messages so philosophical I have no idea what they are about. Jose Gregorio, religion, boob jobs, ‘what will be will be’ and so on seem to be the themes that displace an active analytical mindset.
    It’s all very upsetting, more so against the present background of the degeneration of all aspects of Venezuelan society.
    Brutalised springs to mind. Media control has a lot do with it but so has the developing reality that Venezuela is no longer governed by politically motivated characters intent on occasionally doing good. Instead control is with criminals fully intent on exploiting the people and resources for whatever reason. The dregs have taken over and like it or not their barrio mentality and aggressive nature is well suited to bullying a normally passive people to the point that “thinking” ain’t what it used to be.

  4. This is a bit of a fallacy. That is, the gvt’s hegemony is largely only on paper. Venezuelans are chismosos, and I can attest that motorizados are already discussing this in hot dog stands like it’s common knowledge throughout the territory.

    De bolas que saben.

    The point you are making stands, though. But the interesting question is: who really is being censored, why and in what way? Who isn’t hearing the news (is anybody not hearing the news)? It’s like the evil dollar: everybody knows and has known what it is before and since the law was passed that said it should not be named. Rhetoric is important, there is a posturing here that isn’t quite plausible deniability, but dialectic integrity.

    On the other hand, things like economic data really are being censored, and really nobody knows it. Maybe the real effect of the censoring is the deligimitization of details and hard facts,

  5. It may be that existential stress has grown so intense that the “truth,” even Homeric scandals like cocaine smuggling being linked to Maduro’s immediate family, is just background noise to the more urgent chorus of getting comida, medicine if needed, and trying to make it through the day without a personal epic. In matters of survival, Maduro ain’t no help, so who cares, really. The farce has now gone so far those ads, from both camps, feel surreal. It’s life in a circus mirror, so distorted and warped that no one is sure what they are even looking at.

    • I would venture to say that you do not quite understand the common Venezuelan. The comments are not “what a disgrace that they are such criminals!” but “how stupid they are…!”

      It’s a big mistake to think that scarcity or any current deep problem is enough to take from Venezuelans their liveliness.

  6. The chaburros are completely hysterical about the whole thing, while some say that those two are just two random idiots that maburro doesn’t have to control (nor any responsibility about), others like the biggest druglord claim that Lorenzo Mendoza (aka “pelucóoooonnnn >.<") PLANTED those two good souls with almost a ton of cocaine (Did he do so giving them that stuff packed as PAN flour??), and some more claim that Ben Rausseo aka ER CONDE is the real narco here (Yes, you heard that, they are so imbecile that they are trying to blame everything again on those they hate just because)

  7. The government just doesn’t know how to play this one. They can’t really cover it up. As someone above said, Venezuelans like to gossip (don’t we all?) and this is just too juicy not to share. So, that leaves them with two very bad choices: They can throw their own family members under the bus or they try to deny the undeniable.

    p.s.: The yacht? 135′ with helicopter? This is not going to play well in the food lines.


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