Photo: retrieved

As international public attention was focused on a viral video involving Nicolás Maduro, another one has caused concern, since it could take two men to prison for a long time.

This month, two Merida firefighters were arrested by Military Intelligence for sharing online the video seen above, showing a donkey walking around the fire station of Apartaderos (right in the middle of the páramo), described as “a visit from President Maduro.”

Ricardo Prieto Parra and Carlos Varón were formally charged on September 16 with “inciting hate” under articles 20 and 21 of the Anti-Hate Law, passed last year by the National Constituent Assembly.

Both men deny making the video. If  finally convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison; an internal inquiry on the matter has been opened as well by the Merida State Fire Corps.

The case has been filled with irregularities, like the delay on the first court audience (contradicting the criminal procedure code in its Article 236), and how the judge is an active chavista loyalist, according to local NGO ODH-ULA. In the meantime, the two firefighters were transferred to Bailadores, without telling relatives.

Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, considers the arrests as “consequence of the implementation of a vague and ambiguous law, passed by the Venezuelan dictatorship.”

For context, there’s a pejorative term used against Maduro in which he’s compared to a donkey (“Maburro”). Opinion articles and magazine covers abroad have used it. Maduro himself is aware of this insult, has addressed it on multiple occasions and, when asked about this case during a recent press conference, Maduro took it really well:

Full solidarity with Agence France Press’ correspondent Esteban Rojas, who didn’t deserve to suffer that kind of verbal abuse for doing a legitimate question of public interest.

This case is another proof of the criminalization of dissidence in Venezuela that goes way back to the controversial Sentence 1,942 of the TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber, which opened the door to punish what authorities could find as “offensive.” The Anti-Hate Law, already born in the worst of circumstances, is simply the weaponization of the chavista ideal.

Venezuelan writer Alberto Barrera Tyszka left it quite clear for the New York Times:

“The prank of two firefighters that wanted to laugh a little at the authorities and at their own misfortune, has found an untempered and ferocious reaction from the government (…) The intolerance to humor sharply reflects the degree of authoritarianism that Maduro needs to continue in power.”

With the harassment of three British journalists, held for several hours by authorities in Zulia this month, the trend is clear. That story isn’t quite over, after the journos returned to Colombia safe and sound and three locals hired to support them are still detained and facing possible charges.

As always, Big Brother is watching.

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  1. “Ricardo Prieto Parra and Carlos Varón were formally charged on September 16 with “inciting hate” under articles 20 and 21 of the Anti-Hate Law, passed last year by the National Constituent Assembly.”

    If the average Kleptozulean pueblo people knew anything about basic ‘democracy’, they would have heard about foreign concepts such as “freedom of expression”, and fancy, civilized-world stuff like that.

    Where on planet Earth do you have “Anti-Hate Laws”? Ask any average pueblo-people ladies or gentle-men, while they scramble for restaurant remains in the garbage or look for something to steal. Many probably think that’s normal, by now. Because, of course, they’ve never heard about Nazi Germany or Iraq or Syria or Libya. No one ever bothered to teach them any basic history, much less geography.

    That’s how and why the Narco-Tyrants get away with such barbarities, year after year. They count on the abysmal, enormous IGNORANCE (and complicity) of the masses. El Pueblo, by now, in as numb and as stupid as they can get, as submissive, corrupt and complicit as they come, even in Africa.

    • God you are right I just asked my workers of they had ever heard of the nazi party and they had not. So I told them all about it. Horrible thing that ignorance does to a society hey, no tools no past lessons learned.

      I think all firefighters everywhere should make similar (or funnier) videos making fun of Maduro in solidarity for their fellow fire fighter brothers. Totally ridiculous that buddy can’t take a joke.

    • Oh, plenty of countries have anti-hate laws, but they’re never used as a way to stifle dissent against the government.

      Canada leads the way in this nonsense, but with plenty of “liberal democracies” not far behind. But these laws are no better than the ones Maduro is using. You can’t regulate thought or speech or expression so that you’re “loved.”

      In the states, so far and thank God, it’s basically a category used to create hate CRIMES. I can still say I hate Muslims, but I can’t say it while punching one in the face, where I’m now charged with assault AND a hate crime.

      In addition, me yelling “I hate Muslims” while punching the guy isn’t/can’t be considered as inciting others.

      God bless America.

  2. Thank you Gustavo for locating Mr. Barrera Tyszka for us.

    I’d missed reading him since he stopped writing for El Nacional.

    I see he managed to get past the authorities with his wit intact.

  3. The anti hate law really doenst target hatred as such ,only hatred or contempt for the regime and what it stands for ,in contrast the regime and allies are free to entice and indulge in the hatred and disdain of those who oppose it without the law coming into application at all ….!! In fact Maduros speeches are full of hatred and contempt without him being called into account at all…., the regime thrives on hatred , is driven by it ……, maybe the law we should have is a law that proscribes falsity , lies and deceptions …but then the regime would be rendered totally voiceless…….!!

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