Iris Varela Stars in the Gocho Version of ‘Goodbye, Lenin!’

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Photo: El País

The tweets show large crowds of people on the Simón Bolívar International Bridge, the main crossing point between Venezuela and Colombia. The international media has been running stories all year long about the surge of Venezuelans fleeing to Colombia looking for food and other basic necessities. But, according to former prisons minister and PSUV pillar Iris Varela, the opposite is in fact true.

In a tweet shared yesterday, Varela says, “Observe the time and date, in real time, the exodus of citizens from the gringa colony called Colombia into VENEZUELA”:

The scale of the deception here is staggering.

The Simón Bolívar International Bridge might be one of the most photographed on the planet at the moment, as it bears the most visible face of the growing Venezuelan migrant crisis. Thousands of Venezuelans use it to cross into Colombia on a daily basis in the hopes of finding food, medicine and other basic necessities to bring back home.

According to Colombian authorities, as many as 30,000 Venezuelans cross into the country each day, with the majority of them returning to Venezuela to bring home whatever they’ve managed to find. The drama that unfolds on the bridge each day has been documented extensively by media outlets for months.

None of that deterred Varela from publishing images like this one, captioned “Could we now say with these images that there is an exodus of Colombians into Venezuela? IMAGES IN REAL TIME”:

While a great many Venezuelans are relocating permanently to Colombia in record numbers, many others go just for the day to look for food or medical treatment. In all likelihood, what Varela’s tweets show is Venezuelans returning home at the end of a day looking for sustenance in Colombia.

Varela unwittingly provided evidence for this herself by calling attention to the timestamps on the images, all of which show that they were taken in the mid-to-late afternoon. This squares with what we know about migration patterns across the bridge, and strongly suggests that what we’re seeing is the afternoon homecoming of a relative handful of daytrippers.

Look no further for evidence of this than this video shared by NTN24 this morning, taken on the same bridge but looking towards Venezuela (for reference, see Google Maps here):

What Varela did with her nine tweets yesterday goes beyond normal spin. Rather than a mere attempt to mitigate the impact of the images, Varela’s was a bald-faced attempt to turn truth upside down. Varela used reality as a weapon against itself.

Varela’s tweets call to mind Wolfgang Becker’s 2003 film Goodbye, Lenin!, in which a young man fabricates an alternate reality where it’s West Germany that has collapsed, all so that his gravely ill-mother —an ardent supporter of the ruling party in East Germany who was in a coma when the Berlin Wall fell— won’t be shocked to death by the news. Even as his mother lays dying, the son tries to convince her that it’s West Berliners who are now streaming over the wall towards freedom in the East.

In the film, this subversion of reality is entertaining and even moving. On Iris Varela’s Twitter feed, it’s an insult to an increasingly desperate nation and to a watching world. As the grim reality of Venezuela’s collapse becomes more apparent, government officials like Varela will redouble their attempts to deceive in more and more brazen ways.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. Things here are going to hell in a handbasket fast. Today, Banco Venezuela’s platform was offline, and from best we can tell, not just here in this area as clients were saying their relatives in other parts of the country were saying the same.

    Imagine having no cash, and unable to do a transfer. Translation: No business activity.

    Our cash intake has probably dropped by 75% or more over the last few weeks. We’re selling maiz trillado, peas, beans, cassave, auyama, and platanos……not much else. Cigs didn’t arrive this week either so that puts the locals in an even worse mood.

    Stepdaughter No. 2 brought us some supplies from Barcelona, mostly medicines she could find. Diclofenac potascio, a popular all-round medication for whatever hurts, which we last sold for 2500 bs is now 15,000 bs. Similar hikes on the few other medications she could locate.

    Stuff like jugo, soft drinks, rice, flour, etc are a thing of the past. Every day the economy gets smaller, the choices fewer, the prices higher.

    Maduro should win in a landslide.

    • Just Like the December, 1998 landslides? I am sure that Mad Ernie needs to dig up some bodies to make sure that he maintains his victory in the name of Chavez. and by the way how the VZ skier doing

  2. One of my favorite responses to that bullsh*t tweet:

    Claro imbécil, los que van solo a comprar comida, medicinas y lo que necesiten vienen de regreso. Sucede porque uds se robaron todo y no hay nada en el país

    • There’s a magic in Spanish. “Imbe’cil” just seems to carry so much meaning, compared to the English unaccented “imbecile”. Almost every time I’ve heard “imbe’cil” used, it seems to carry a double accent, like “imbE”cil”! Sometimes served with a side dish.

    • Only thing they missed with that tweet was that nothing will change until policies are changed not even a 30% increase in oil prices can help at this point.

  3. Funny the racist bit on the “Gringa” colony, as thought that’s a knock on them and they want to be like her and live in chaos.

  4. OT guys:

    Had quite a day today.

    The school shooting in Parkland, FL was only about a mile from me (I’m in Coral Springs), and around the block from my wife’s work.

    17 dead.

    • That’s quite a nice neighborhood for that to happen. If more people at the school had been armed, the guy would never have tried it, and those 17 lives and other injuries would have been saved. Used to be most men carried a weapon – or two, or three.

      • Are you suggesting that students, teachers, and school administrators used to carry 2 or 3 weapons with them at school? And/or that they should be strapped at all times during the school day?

        • There’s a rational argument that the teachers should be armed…those who wish to be…accompanied by significant training.

          These schools are targets because they’re soft, unprotected targets. The killers know they can take out dozens before they’re stopped or they kill themselves.

          More important, with this danger to our schools, don’t teachers have a right to defend themselves?

          As an example, the coach who died yesterday protecting students with his body could have stopped this nut and prevented additional deaths.

  5. Imagine Iris Varela, Luisa Ortega, Delcy Rodriguez and Tibisay sentenced to 20 years, no parole, on the same 12 x 12 stinking cell in Ramo Verde. Two bunkers, cold spaghetti with no sauce for breakfast, rice and water from the Guaire for dinner. A treat of Perrarina on special occasions..

    • I posit this: Imagine a world where Iris Varela, Luisa Ortega, Delcy Rodriguez and Tibisay live comfortably somewhere in La Lagunita and are immune from prosecution. Aside from the occasional tweet, both have mostly said nothing since they wrote their memoirs about their role in the regime. Delcy has her own line of shoes, Ortega teaches at SAIS in an interesting visitorship and Iris is advising Podemos on the side. Yeah, the regime fell years ago, things aren’t as bad as they used to be. But did you really think things were going to change under Henri Falcon?

  6. Venezuelans rush to the border as Colombia tightens controls

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-43013635

    There is an aerial photo of the bridge completely full of people going INTO Colombia.
    The BBC did another HardTalk episode focused on Venezuela and the threat that the regime poses to the region.

    I admire and respect Rex Tillerson. He is a low profile results oriented businessman that has great abilities of persuasion. He is the type of guy that people listen to when he speaks. I do believe that a solution to this crisis is either being formulated with the regional leaders or action is soon to be taken.

    The sooner the better.

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