President Maduro has been leaning on these non-legitimate holders of the monopoly of violence to keep his hold on power -to the point of offering 20.000 rifles to civilian members of his milicias, to have the people guarantee security “Barrio Adentro”
Dictatorships aren’t what they used to be, that much I can assert. The question is, though, is a XXI Century dictatorship like Hugo Chávez’s and Nicolás Maduro’s more or less effective at attaining -and, more importantly, preserving- power than a more classic form like, say, that of Juan Vicente Gómez or Marcos Pérez Jiménez?
This may seem like an odd place to begin a news briefing, but it rotates around the point of Bolivarian militias acquiring an increasingly relevant role in upholding the supporting pillars of the dictatorship. President Maduro has been leaning on these non-legitimate holders of the monopoly of violence to keep his hold on power -to the point of offering 20.000 rifles to civilian members of his milicias, to have the people guarantee security “Barrio Adentro”. Security and Human Rights experts like Rocío San Miguel have spoken out against the illegitimacy of these measures and, at least equally importantly, the risk they pose to our security.
Lies, loyalty, and… lies
Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol yet again defied the laws of logic by accusing a newspaper and an information-based NGO of, well… informing.
You see, Minister Reverol is supposed to be in charge of keeping the country safe. Which he is accomplishing about as proficiently as Dumbledore kept Hogwarts muggle or Axl Rose kept himself sober. Just this January, El Nacional reported a death toll of 504 as calculated by the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV). Now, we at CC have had our beefs with OVV’s metrics, but the figures are safe for at least a ballpark figure.
The Minister’s response? Accusing both organizations of “destabilizing” the country, adding that their numbers are imprecise. Not content, he added the finishing touch of dumping the load on Henrique Capriles, saying that most bodies in the Bello Monte morgue are Miranda state deaths, as that is the state with the highest mortality rate.
As opposed to a genuine response to their concerns, users received patriotic or anti-opposition messages including terms like “pitiyankee” and love for Chávez
But fact-deflection isn’t enough in the dictator’s playbook. Loyalty -forcing is equally important. Such was the case demonstrated by Táchira state governor José Gregorio Vielma Mora, who opened a sort of e-mail hotline for people who were having issues with their CLAP distribution. The catch? As opposed to a genuine response to their concerns, users received patriotic or anti-opposition messages including terms like “pitiyankee” and love for Chávez. El Pitazo went as far as sending in an e-mail and experiencing it firsthand. The results are every bit as pathetic as you’d expect.
Meanwhile, back in Far Far Away
By which I mean, of course, our National Assembly. The only legitimate body of Democratic representation, which by way of dictatorship finds itself far far away from relevance and, more importantly, results. Yesterday’s important-yet-useless discussion centered around hunger, during which lawmakers Carlos Paparoni, Luis Silva, and Manuela Bolívar drove home accusations of the government’s poor policy and management, corruption, and ultimate uselessness in terms of feeding Venezuelans. Accusations flew ranging from 3 million Venezuelans eating garbage to 80% of families having at least one member skip meals in benefit of others. The Bloque de la Patria shone for its absence.
Inside MUD, things are also moving. It appears that, as the talk of Chúo Torrealba leaving its ranks continues, the focus has now centered towards a reform of his position altogether. The roundtable, it seems, is now considering changing the post of Executive Secretary to a collegiate body, or a role of coordinator. This, they argue, is framed in an attempt to make the coalition more inclusive and dynamic. Let’s hope to God it works.
Doing news is bad news
Bad pun? Anyways, the International Federation of Journalists reported Venezuela as one of its red zones -one of the most dangerous countries in which to be a journalist. Even though the death toll doesn’t seem very high (two murdered journalists last year), two things must be taken into account. First, journalist death tolls aren’t all that high in general; Iraq is the highest with 15, and those are actual war correspondents. Secondly, the perils for journalists in Venezuela diversify from only deaths, including unfair incarceration and general insecurity, making the country an absolute red zone in total.
More on the bad news front, Cáritas ran a nourishment study in which it found 225 children suffering from severe malnutrition. Among the many pieces of data, we find that Vargas state has the worst nourishment issues. Also, we see that almost 20% of children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic undernutrition. El Pitazo ran the full story here.
And in my daily attempt to sugar coat a towering inferno, let’s have three cheers for La Vinotinto Sub 20, which beat Ecuador 4-2 yesterday, with a spectacular medium-range shot from Yangel Herrera. Also, let’s hear it for Águilas del Zulia (or, de Venezuela?) who won their inaugural match of the Serie del Caribe against Puerto Rico’s Criollos de Caguas. Hurrah, and on we go.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.