The Anti-Escrache Law and the Death of Free Speech

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At times, Venezuela can feel like an exercise in competitive Orwellianism. A couple of weeks ago, Nicolas Maduro went to his tailor-made Constituyente to denounce the “campaigns of hate, violence and intolerance” regime higher-ups have been subjected to, after a series of incidents (known colloquially as escraches), where angry Venezuelans both at home and abroad confronted regime officials for their legendary corruption and mismanagement.

Elsewhere in the world, this is known as “your constituents giving you a piece of their mind” — and officials’ willingness to sit through them is considered a crucial part of keeping democracy working. In Venezuela, the regime describes it as a terrible vice to be stamped out using all the repressive power of the state.

Indeed, the Constituent Assembly is fast-tracking a bill that could send people who ball out their leaders with up to 25 years in prison. Yes, twenty-five. They’re styling it as the “Law on Peaceful Coexistence and Against Intolerance” (Ley de Convivencia Pacífica y contra la Intolerancia.) Like we said, Orwell is a rank amateur next to these guys.

The legislation is really aimed at curbing all forms of criticism against the government, as Carlos Correa, head of NGO Espacio Publico explains, with harsh penalties imposed for people for expressions that would be considered protected speech in any vaguely democratic country.

The Constituent Assembly is fast-tracking a bill that could send people who ball out their leaders with up to 25 years in prison. Yes, twenty-five.

For some time, the hegemony has toyed with the idea of placing new curbs on social media. This is a perfect excuse.

The text of the Anti-Escrache hasn’t been made public, but we’ve been around the block often enough to know what to expect. Going from official descriptions, and considering the current Media Law (which originally regulated all content shown on radio and television, and was later widened to cover the Internet), we can expect yet another vaguely worded text that regime-controlled courts can use indiscriminately to cow opponents into silence.

If it was just about media, there’d be little point in writing a new law. But by the looks of it, this bill is aimed not just at the media, but at regular citizens as well.

It was announced right after the two largest free-to-air TV channels were put under formal investigation for their “lack of coverage” of the July 30th constituyente election, which bucked Maduro’s personal orders to them. Indeed, local media owners could face their own inquisition at the hands of the Constituyente too.

Funny that even when the government wants to offer their side of the story, such as at the Tuesday press conference with international media, the hegemony shows its unhinged repressive spirit by coercing outlets into doing their coverage the way Maduro wants, on penalty of being kicked out of Miraflores.

Like democracy, free speech has been on life support in this country for a long time. If this bill becomes law, free speech will die.

15 COMMENTS

    • I’ve always thought knee-capping, both knees, would be a good start, starting with the FANB, and DC, Mario Silva, etc. It would give them the rest of their lives to contemplate their crimes, or just be as miserable as Venezuelans are now.

  1. Also, free speech died in Venezuela the day shiabbe ordered to slaughter the people for protesting against him on april 11 of 2002.

  2. Just look at what Cuba allows its residents to do, and consequences Cuba imposes if you step out of line. That is where Venezuelans will end up so long as this regime stays in control. I expect articles and comments on this blog originated from within Venezuela to be limited to ones that are not critical of government officials or policies. Of course, articles and comments that are pro-regime and/or critical of the US and any other perceived enemies of the government will still be allowed, if not encouraged.

    Look also to Cuba for how production and distribution (or lack thereof) of food, cooking oil and other basic necessities (e.g., toilet paper) will be done in Venezuela. Maybe this will be an improvement? The VZ bolivar is already approaching the same “value” as the CU peso.Also, I understand there is significantly less violent crime in Cuba, so that may be an upside for Venezuelan residents?

    Of course, once they start handing out 25 year prison sentences for calling Maduro a bad name, then maybe even the Libya MD will agree Venezuela is a dictatorship.

    • “Also, I understand there is significantly less violent crime in Cuba, so that may be an upside for Venezuelan residents? ”

      Except that violent crime skyrocketed in Venezuela because that was the method castro ordered chávez to use to keep the population under control.

      • OK – but does Cuba want it to stay increasingly violent and unstable? Seems to me they may prefer a crackdown in conjunction with various other repressive measures such as social media crack downs to “restore order”. Otherwise, they have a constant problem if the instability becomes too great, and the country goes Somolia. Maybe Maduro et al. don’t care, as long as they get to keep stealing/controlling the oil and cocaine booty, but I was thinking Raul still fancies a Cuban controlled South and Central America?

        • “does Cuba want it to stay increasingly violent and unstable? ”

          That way people won’t revolt, anybody who dares to go too far is killed, simple as that, it’s been that way since april 11 of 2002: “Kill some so the rest will get scared and shut up”

          Take away the basic needs of the people and they’ll be reduced to ceaselessly wander trying to solve them.

          That’s why chavismo hoards all the food and all the money, and that’s why chavismo finances and supports criminal gangs, from smugglers to malandros to illegal miners to bachaqueros, they’re ALL parts of the chavista repression machinery.

          After all, where’s the unstability for chavismo anyway? The second MUD saw elections they went after them like starving dogs and told the people that protested that that wasn’t their problem anymore, that was the cause of the failure of the protests in the first place, desperate and angry people with NO STRATEGY NOR TRAINING whatsoever throwing themselves against the armed chavista zoo, while their fancy leadership insisted in always “stay pacifist”, but pacifist to the point to not even help somebody that was being beaten to death in the middle of the street or else chavismo would call us “the violent ones” and boy, Venezuela really needs those little fragile snowflakes to voluntarily vote for the people they were brainwashed to hate.

          And now that the elections are close, MUD says “cut the crap, you radicals, and just go and vote, because if you don’t want to, then take a gun and get yourself killed, but let us to live in PPEEEEAAACCCCEEEEE!”

          So, 2014 happened, ALL OVER AGAIN, expect all the international pressure to waste away in front of the lobbyist’s trillions of stolen petrodollars, and expect a truly violent protest movement soon, because chavistas haven’t actually witnessed a violent protest against them yet.

          In the meantime, the more than 7500 murders in these past four months were for naught.

      • “Also, I understand there is significantly less violent crime in Cuba, so that may be an upside for Venezuelan residents? ”

        When everyone has no money or possessions (like in Cuba), there is nothing to steal. That is why crime eventually drops in a communist country.

  3. I read that they’re doing the same thing in socialist Sweden. Soundcloud (or something like that) just took down various videos of Swedes protesting their government’s lax immigration policies that allow Muslims into the country where they, with their entirely different mindset, rape Swedish women and burn cars, riot, and act like bullies who own the place. The videos were taken down because they were “hateful and discriminatory towards different ethnicities, religious backgrounds, races, [blah, blah, blah].” Venezuela is not as “advanced” a socialism as Sweden, so at least you can still see the protest marches.

    “Socialism” is a sick – very sick – prescription for mass murder. Like the little kid in the movies said: “REDRUM!! REDRUM!!” The day what I said is labeled as “hate speech” will be … what? What do we call it? Is a simple “1984” enough?

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