Original art by @modográfico

Last month, the Ministry for Women posted the following video on YouTube. It’s several children repeating lines from the comandante eterno’s last public address on December 8th, 2012, part of a new PR campaign called “Loyalty and Future” (Lealtad y Futuro), which also includes other TV spots and even street signs in Caracas with Maduro’s image.

But this particular spot caught the eye of CECODAP, a Venezuelan NGO dedicated to promote and defend children’s rights. In an interview with El Pitazo Radio, co-founder Oscar Misle considers that the children’s rights were violated and the message is unacceptable.

Thus, CECODAP asked broadcasting authority CONATEL to withdraw the spot from all media, explaining its rationale in this Twitter thread.

The hegemony promoted Lealtad y Futuro as part of the 5th anniversary of Hugo Chavez’ final proclamation, but the fact that the PSUV has used the same slogan to promote a possible Maduro re-election shows the campaign’s real intent after all.

Caracas Chronicles spoke on the phone with Fernando Pereira, co-founder and board member of CECODAP, and author of this piece for Efecto Cocuyo, where he explains the whole controversy.

In his view, the use of children on the video is “manipulation” and tokenism. Even if Article 12 of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Children recognizes that they indeed have the right to free speech, it has to be exercised in a “genuine” manner.

Articles 80 and 81 of the Venezuelan Organic Law for the Protection of Children and Teenagers (LOPNA) were violated too by the spot, according to CECODAP’s letter to CONATEL.

“Today we have a fatherland, and whatever happens, in any circumstance, we’ll still have a fatherland.”

Pereira also complains that the spot sends the wrong message in the middle of this national crisis, specifically with its final line: “Today we have a fatherland, and whatever happens, in any circumstance, we’ll still have a fatherland.”

This, Pereira believes, can be understood as a battle cry, dangerous in a grave social crisis. He finds it quite unfortunate that instead of appealing for solidarity, the official message is of both confrontation and acquiescence.

There have been several cases in recent years of proselytizing with children, from repeating slogans to wearing costumes: During his time at the helm, the late Hugo Chávez shared the stage with children during public acts, and successor Nicolás Maduro followed the same trend, in several occasions.

Venezuelan media scholar and tocayo, Gustavo Hernández Díaz, touched this very issue in this 2015 opinion piece:

It’s worrying that parents transfer their personal expectations to their children, their resentments and frustrations, with the purpose of idolizing Comandante Chávez. They disguise kids as ‘Chavecitos’ with red berets because they associate this military man with the image of Bolívar.

But the government and the hegemony claim that the opposition is the one manipulating children here, and under the excuse of protecting them (aka “The Helen Lovejoy Doctrine”), the State passed the RESORTE Law and punished outlets like Tal Cual in 2007 over a 2005 article by Laureano Márquez.

As for their request to CONATEL, Pereira says CECODAP will consider all their options if there’s no response from the media authority. But it wouldn’t be surprising if the official silence goes on and, in case of denial, it wouldn’t be the first time either.  

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