Remember when we predicted the death of free speech?

Well, the law that will execute it was just passed. It attacks theoretically invulnerable rights, and was conceived (and now enforced) by an illegitimate body with the sole purpose of making sure we all remain quiet little sheep. Even on our way to the slaughter.

What does this mean in practice? It means that a body of censors will review everything (I imagine harder and more thoroughly than they already do) and, based on whims and feelings in the moment, decide who gets thrown in jail. Maybe you said something to Delcy on the street, or you vented on the radio. Maybe you wore the wrong t-shirt. I could be arrested for writing this or you for commenting on it. We have the law here for you to read it, but I think the phrasing isn’t very important. You know what it says at heart. And we have seen the type of peace they want.

Human Rights are irrelevant and justice is irrelevant because, as Winston Smith found out, what matters is the Party. And the Ministry of Love will make sure you don’t forget.

Ley-contra-el-Odio-por-la-Convivencia-Pacífica-y-la-Tolerancia by Caracas Chronicles on Scribd

Our regular contributor Gustavo Hernandez saw all of this coming and his insight is portrayed in The Anti-Escrache Law and the Death of Free Speech, reproduced here in its entirety:

The Anti-Escrache Law and the Death of Free Speech

The government has been coercing the broadcasting media into silencing criticism for years. Now it wants to do the same to you.

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.

25 COMMENTS

  1. How will this law impact Caracas Chronicles? Will we loose one of the few sources of information on what is going on in Venezuela. Do your writers now have to go incognito – underground to survive?

  2. “At times, Venezuela can feel like an exercise in competitive Orwellianism.” Nice turn of phrase except for the “at times” bit.

  3. Funny.

    You forget that free spech in Venezuela dien on april 11 when the HDP ordered the murder of dozens for just saying no to his govermnent.

  4. The cancer spreads, it’s now Stage 4. Everyone looks towards the doctor who shrugs his shoulders and says, “everyone gets their turn”.

  5. When did you predict the end of free speech and is there an English translation of this new law and will your judiciary enforce the law. With all of these steps, the anticipatory default, the ANC, and now this bell ringer piece of legislation, its hard to imagine a negotiated return to democracy. I doubt you are in a position to answer the prior question about how this new law will affect CC but it clearly is on minds if your readers.

    • WC—check the link below for the article by Carlos. Of course, when pressured or led to enforce the law by certain individuals at least some of the justices will enforce “the law”. To “imagine a negotiated return to democracy” is possible, is the same as believing that taking part in the local elections (coming on Dec. 15th I believe) will somehow preserve ” los espacios” for the opposition.

      This website is hosted in Canada ( again, I believe) so that should not be a problem. On the other hand, many of the contributing authors are located in Venezuela, this should certainly be a concern for everyone who appreciates this website, agree or disagree with the positions taken of the authors.

      https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2017/08/31/at-any-moment-there-could-be-arrests-of-journalists-the-fear-has-become-real/

  6. “I doubt you are in a position to answer the prior question about how this new law will affect CC but it clearly is on minds if your readers.”

    Indeed. Especially those of us who live in Venezuela and post our opinions here.

    • “Indeed. Especially those of us who live in Venezuela and post our opinions here.”

      You can be caught from posting in this specific site if you meet two conditions:

      1) The email you’re using to post is your personal email with a weak password that can be easily hacked (example your ID number, LOTS of people in Venezuela do that)

      2) The IP address from where you’re posting turns to be the address from your personal or work computer, which shouldn’t have changed by the time the sebin tries to track you.

      And those two sensitive pieces of information are, for now, in the hands of the admins of this page, such as Mr. Toro, who I doubt will happily deliver them to anyone asking for dubious purposes.

      There are ways to avoid detection in the internet, the problem in Venezuela is, as pretty much everything else, a lack of education to the people, who’s remained mostly ignorant on how to even complain without risking their lives and their families in the process because they believe “they have rights and the chavistas won’t dare”

      • I’d be easier to find than going through all that. One thing that has always amazed me about this country is how EVERYONE seems to know everyone else’s business.

  7. Thank you for your answers and your work is appreciated by me even if I do at times disagree. As a lawyer I never confused disagreement with lack of respect. I disagreed with a lot of people for whom I had great respect. I respect what you do for your country. Stay safe, all of you.

    • Now you’ve gone and ruined it for me, telling us you’re a lawyer. I had a brother who was an attorney but I never admitted it because of the shame I felt. When asked, I always told others he was a piano player in a whorehouse.

      • are you gonna be ok in this new Orwellian world of Venezuela. Now that I am retired I self describe as a lawyer in recovery, desperately seeking my humanity. Although along the way I did help some good people in difficult circumstances.

        • Mr. Crispin, I’ve always been a survivor, prospering regardless of the circumstances unfolding around me, though I admit Venezuela has been the supreme test.

          As the saying goes, in the land of tyranny, the truth is treason. No where is that expression more appropriate today than Venzuela (expect perhaps N. Korea) and only because they’re not as disorganized and incompetent as the chavistas.

          A couple of months ago I said I’d cut way back on my posts here because of the potential blowback, but, here I am still calling a spade a spade. Rest assured my significant other has a list of persons to contact in the event of my sudden disappearance. It may not do any good, but at least my family back in the states will know what happened to me.

          As for my attorney comments, you know I joke. In response to my ribbing, my brother always said, “yeah, next time you get your ass in a sling (which I did far too often), call a mechanic”. LOL

  8. I ignore every fucking thing I read with “hegemony” in it. Damn, do I hate that meaningless word.

    It’s as worthless as “oligarchy.”

    Do all of you guys get the same First Grade readers, or what?

    • Ira, sorry, I guess we have not read the script of the world according to Ira. But here. This is from something called a dictionary. Try it. It will be good for you.
      he·gem·o·ny
      həˈjemənē,ˈhejəˌmōnē/
      noun: hegemony; plural noun: hegemonies
      leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others.
      “Germany was united under Prussian hegemony after 1871”
      synonyms: leadership, dominance, dominion, supremacy, authority, mastery, control, power, sway, rule, sovereignty
      “the Prussian hegemony of the nineteenth century”

  9. Sadly, this reminds me of my childhood, watching the old movies of the Partisan with his illegal transmitter in the closet, desperately tapping out a final message while the Gestapo breaks down his front door.

    God help Venezuela.

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