The ink had barely had time to dry on last Friday’s Executive Order imposing sanctions on Venezuela when the Orwellian manipulation had already begun. U.S. financial sanctions, Constituyente-chair Delcy Rodríguez informed us, were responsible for food and medicine shortages.
It’s tiring and borderline absurd to debunk this one. Flip through the archives on Caracas Chronicles and you can find us writing about shortages at least as far back as February 2007, when Barack Obama was a junior Senator nobody had ever heard of and Donald Trump was busy hosting his (previous) TV Reality Show. The sheer, titanium-plated cojones it takes to blame shortages on Sanctions that started a week ago would surprise us coming from anyone else.
Then again, c’mon, it’s Delcy.
It’s worth pondering the exercise Delcy was engaged in when she first tested the waters on this message. As a plain description of reality, it’s so plainly bonkers it can’t be read as a normal political claim. It was too insane to persuade, too crazy even to confuse, too diametrically opposed to universally grasped realities to muddy the waters.
Delcy’s claim was an act of raw power.
But it’d be a mistake to undermine the power of this kind of Goebbelsian nonsense. Delcy’s statement shouldn’t be read as a description of what reality is, it should be read as a description of what it will become, once the propaganda machine is through with it.
The future is long, memories fuzzy, timelines get garbled. There’s one possible future —terrifying for its probability— where this idiotic lie sticks. Sooner than you know it it’s 2029, first-time voters were six years old when Sanctions first started and the story that everything was fine in Venezuela until the gringo blockade started becomes installed as a kind of alternate truth — a falsehood with all the rights and privileges of a fact, simply by virtue of having been repeated so often.
Delcy’s claim was, in other words, an act of raw power. Power in its primal, Orwellian form. Not power over people, or over money, or over weapons: power over reality itself.
“He who controls the past controls the future,” Orwell wrote, “and he who controls the present controls the past.”
Faced with this kind of primal powergrab, safeguarding our collective memory from manipulation becomes a subversive project. A challenge to the power of the basis of the state’s power.
It’s a project that’s animated Caracas Chronicles from day one. And now more than ever.