It takes a particular kind of person to sentence someone. Let’s try to float away from our sweet little corner of hell for a second, OK? In the real world, a judge is a person whose qualifications go way beyond knowledge of the law and jurisprudence. Someone who knows the whips and scorns of Lawyerly arguments but never uses them. Thinks, ponders and has a clear understanding. A just person, a virtuous person.
Back in hell, judges are corrupt, ignorant, and incompetent. It’s hard for us to see it any other way because we’ve been here so long. This particular fact makes people in hell think that anybody can be a judge.
While Venezuelan children are born on hospital floors and die of malnutrition, perhaps the most widely covered piece of news these past few days was the suspension – and eventual cancellation – of the very popular and snarky radio show Calma Pueblo. Not that the limits of freedom of speech isn’t a worthwhile topic of discussion, but… dead babies.
Some context: Calma Pueblo has one of the largest radio audiences in the country. Hosted by three young comedians and aimed at an older Millennial audience, it’s a sarcastic, shameless dictatorship bashing well-oiled machine. And funny, too.
On September 18th the show received a call from a 7 year old kid. When asked by the hostess Verónica Gómez (La Vero Gómez) who his favorite football player was, the boy said “Ronaldo.” And she answered, as she would have if a 20-something would have said he was a fan of Cristiano Ronaldo: “Ah, how gay. Well.. Ronaldo, not the kid.”
While Venezuelan children are born on hospital floors the most widely covered piece of news these past few days was the suspension of Calma Pueblo.
A double offense for the social justice warriors. Strike one for addressing the child inappropriately and strike two for using homophobic language. And, for the government, a third strike: They then asked the kid whether he supported chavismo or the opposition. Actually, asking whether you support a bloodthirsty dictatorship is something they should ask everyone before allowing them to procreate.
Because time in hell goes slower than we can remember, we also forget how things in the real world work. And even worse, we tend to normalize torture and unconstitutional crap while feigning entitled indignation for water cooler talk. The Ley RESORTEME was Chávez’s main instrument to censor and close down different media outlets. To read people’s comments saying they agree with CONATEL and that this time the punishment is appropriate and that the law – THIS ABERRANT PIECE OF EXCREMENT – should be applied equally to every one, chavistas and non-chavistas alike, makes it clear that we don’t have freedom of speech because we don’t understand it.
This became the week’s scandal. Everybody cracked down on Vero, insults coming from every corner of hell. Her crucifixion seems to be the one thing all Venezuelans agree on.
We can, from time to time, decide to remain neutral on some issues. The dictatorship exceeded itself, as dictatorships tend to do. The radio station overreacted by shutting down a show that was very uncomfortable for the government, as people afraid of a dictatorship would do. And Vero made a huge mistake, that should not be swept under the rug.
But it’s not clear what people want from her. You see them wanting more. More than being subjected to the dictatorship’s censors, more than losing her job, more than jeopardizing her career, more than apologizing to the kid’s parents and to her audience.
To read people’s comments saying they agree with CONATEL makes it clear that we don’t have freedom of speech because we don’t understand it.
A stoning, perhaps? Or maybe Vero’s destiny is Cersei Lannister’s naked walk of shame over embers while listening to Tarek William Saab’s poetry. What should her sentence be – according to our millions of judges and diosdaditos?
One can understand and accept the result of these events, and reject the abuse of the dictatorship while sending her to the pit for her transgression. There’s no contradiction there.
We have to make an effort to remember that hell is not normal. Hell is hell. A dictatorship does not do right by anyone. You can make a choice to please everyone by laying low and holding your ground or challenging them. In the outside world, you would be able to say pretty much whatever you want.
So here it is: I really hope they get back on air, the three of them. Manuel, José Rafael, and Vero. Aguanten el chaparrón y fuerza.
Crank me up that air conditioner in hell.
Want to get your Weekly Arepa? Subscribe here! (We won’t spam you, promise.)Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.