After falling to absolute chaos, Ciudad Bolívar has been at the forefront of the Venezuelan crisis for days, and Caracas Chronicles has reflected that. Widespread looting and riots transformed this city of 380,000 into a hostile, desolate environment unrecognizable to its own citizens. Many joined in the mayhem, while many more are holed up at home, unwilling or unable to go outside for fear.

How is the government allowing this? Do they want it to happen? What’s really going on? And the kicker: how is it possible that while Ciudad Bolívar is falling apart, nothing much is happening here in Caracas?

What does this mean for the country as a whole? How is the government allowing this? Do they want it to happen? What’s really going on? And the kicker: how is it possible that while Ciudad Bolívar is falling apart, nothing much is happening here in Caracas?

The latter made me really wonder about our media environment. Sure, we get to find out everything via social media and WhatsApp. But to some extent that’s a function of our privilege. How many people in Caucagüita right now really understand what went on in Guayana?

It’s easy to forget that, with the traditional mainstream media either shut down or bought out by the government, many people just never find out about these things. How many? I can’t know for sure. But the state propaganda machine is doing its utmost to keep them in the dark.

Now, back in the world of those of us who do have access to social media. What has been the response -or lack thereof- of our political leaders to the Ciudad Bolívar tragedy? In summary, some are silent, and some are focused solely on assigning blame. Let’s take a look.

First, the gold star winner for solid reporting of this weekend is the Correo del Caroní, which has held back neither information nor criticism and even made Diosdado sweat in his press conference:

Now, the ever-presidentiable Capriles. He’s focused heavily on retweeting news sites to spread information about what’s going on. He’s also made it clear that blaming Maduro is his priority, throwing some insults in there for good measure.

We then see our National Assembly’s Speaker who, like Capriles, focused on informing and insulting. Maduro’s undoubtedly to blame.

Leopoldo López, amazingly, is silent on this matter.

Chúo Torrealba is far from, but he’s only retweeted other sources, not putting in his own two cents. Chiefly retweeted by the aforementioned is Luis Almagro. But Torrealba did take to Periscope, posting a long video full of condemning words and concerning numbers.

 

Among MUD’s members, though, the most affected and most active have been La Causa R, having Andrés Velázquez under pursuit. Américo de Grazia, probably Bolívar State’s most active and relevant AN lawmaker, has filled his timeline with detailed reports and stark criticism.

Before I go on to the grand communicative finale, I must pan through the PSUV’s Twitter feeds in reaction to this apalling crisis. Are you ready? Here we go:

Crickets.

As for the State media, we see pearls such as:

The amazing virtual silence by characters like Nicolás Maduro and Diosdado Cabello tells me that they’re level of Goebbelsian denial has gone beyond looking for a mafia or empire to blame and just completely ignoring the whole thing. Well, that’s not entirely true. Diosdado did speak to the press, sonefacedly saying that Ciudad Bolívar is in absolute calm and that there hasn’t been a single protest in the country. The State’s governor has likewise taken to brushing over the conflict and declaring peace. Because that’s how it works.

And since we’re on protests, here’s my absolute favourite Twitter response to the Ciudad Bolívar Apocalypse.

Oh, María Corina. Sweet María Corina. How you love to insult the government and call for protests shorn of any consensus or logistics. How your defenders will argue forever that you’re the only one with guts, and how you seem to be destined to eternal irrelevance beyond your tantrums being noisy.

So to sum up, the government is in stark denial and the opposition is focused solely on slaming the President.

I’ll concede that channeling what’s happenning into peaceful protesting is probably a good course of action. But, as we’ve discussed thoroughly before, protests aren’t just spontaneous miracles. They take planning, logistics, consensus. Things, sweet MariCori, that you seem to ontologically lack.

So to sum up, the government is in stark denial and the opposition is focused solely on slaming the President. Even the AN called for a session to “determine responsibilities”. I want to break this down for a bit into philosophy and logistics. Logistically, it is true that only the government has the power to do anything about this crisis. Even if the AN would unanimously come up with a plan to alleviate Ciudad Bolívar, they have no means to execute it, and they’re not the executive branch. So yes, the only way to resolve the crisis is by eliminating this government. And blaming them for what’s wrong is one tactic towards that.

But the philosophy must not be forgotten. What is and what should be cannot be completely dissociated, least of all by those who expect to set an example of change.

Do I want to be rid of Maduro? Desperately. But if I criticize PSUV for being a corrupt bunch whose public communications consist on lying in their own favour, blaming everyone else for what’s wrong, and insulting their enemies, then how can I accept the same from my own leaders? I won’t be satisfied substituting one evil for another, even if it’s a far lesser one.

It may be idealistic, but it’s also quite pragmatic. We’ll have to learn to think long term eventually. I don’t only want this Ciudad Bolívar crisis to be over, I want it to never happen anywhere again. And that’s a much harder thing, but much more worthwhile.

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