No photographers allowed

On Wednesday, SEBIN detained reporter Luis López and photographer José Manuel Díaz from local newspaper La Verdad de Vargas at Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía displaying a “suspicious attitude. That sounds pretty serious. Were they planting a bomb? Plotting to traffic drugs?

Nothing of the sort: they were charged with taking this picture.

 

A picture of the terminal’s floor, the iconic mosaic by famous Venezuelan visual artist Carlos Cruz Diez. Its formal name by the way is Cromointerferencia de color aditivo (1974-1978)”. In recent years, it has become an icon of the exodus of young Venezuelans driven away by the crisis. It is perhaps fitting that it’s now visibly falling apart.

But the story doesn’t end there: López and Díaz were held for two hours. Their case was then taken by National Guard Brigadier General José Viloria Sosa, responsible for the airport’s security. According to Lopez’s version of events, Viloria explained that Maiquetia is a “security zone” and considers their work as “suspicious”. Then, he said to them that both would go to SEBIN’s HQ if they didn’t comply. The General also considered the reporters’ claims about the obstacles on their journalistic work as “political posturing”.

Finally, both men were released and “advised” to ask for a permit next time. No pictures were deleted despite the official pressure.

Just two years ago, the authorities now arresting people for showing the mosaic’s decay were busy pledging to fixing it. One year after that, the restoration just stopped.

The sad thing is that that damn mosaic is the one thing Maiquetía has going for it. Our gateway airport is consistently ranked the worst airport in the entire region and one of the worst in the whole world. You’d think they’d spend their time fixing that, instead of harassing people taking photos.

Thank goodness for Franz Kafka International, still saving us from coming at the bottom of the league table.

The obvious deterioration simply adds more meaning to the tragedy. No wonder one of our best rock bands, Desórden Publico, featured it heavily in their most recent music video.

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