Photo: Notesreport retrieved.

The Bolivarian Revolution has been abandoning the model of “competitive authoritarianism” for a while now, entering into a system of “hegemonic authoritarianism with totalitarian traits.” This brings a tide of decisions bent on increasing and perfecting the government’s control over its citizens.

The patria system (patria.org) and the carnet de la patria are part of this social control strategy that the regime has been trying to implement in the country for over a decade. See, the attempts to create a system in which citizens are forced to inform on their neighbors’ political activity, especially if they oppose the regime, go as far back as the Framework Law of National Security (2002) and the repealed Law of the National Intelligence and Counterintelligence System (2008).

Although criticism of la Ley Sapo (as the Law of Intelligence and Counterintelligence is commonly known) made Hugo Chávez repeal it just a few weeks after approving it, its main directives have been gradually applied until reaching the Network of Articulation and Sociopolitical Action (Raas), a social espionage structure much like the Cuban Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR).

The protests of 2017 and the electoral process of May 20, 2018, were the latest pretexts to consolidate these structures, to the point where, in recent weeks, the digital channels of the Socialist United Party of Venezuela (PSUV) have focused on explaining why the Bolivarian Revolution needs the Raas.

Although criticism of la Ley Sapo made Hugo Chávez repeal it just a few weeks after approving it, its main directives have been gradually applied.

The videos say, for example, that the Raas must work as a mechanism that Maduro loyalists can use to identify and report those who oppose their political ideals, calling them enemies. The Raas uses part of an already established structure, the Bolívar-Chávez Battle Units (UBCh), and their members are instructed to focus on four basic tasks:

  • Identifying who’s their historic enemy;
  • Strengthening the unit to face the enemy;
  • Maximizing the will to fight against the enemy;
  • Organizing and acquiring the necessary knowledge to defeat the enemy.

Maduro has focused on social espionage strategies since he formally took office in April, 2013. In 2014, he created the Center of Security Strategy and Homeland Protection (Cesppa), a body carrying most of the elements of the repealed Ley Sapo. Article 10 authorizes State security bodies to call on any citizen to provide information on their neighbors’ activities, without any judicial guarantees whatsoever.

The constant criticism on Maduro’s administration has made the Cesppa insufficient and, since late 2015, the regime has created email accounts and special phone numbers, “so that militants can denounce insiders, spies or dissidents, and purge the chavista formation.”

According to the study made by PROVEA, the Raas is the government’s attempt to establish a community network of surveillance whose entire goal is safeguarding the revolutionary process and turn common citizens into watchdogs, informants and accusers of anyone’s private and public activities.

The Raas is the government’s attempt to establish a community network of surveillance whose entire goal is safeguarding the revolutionary process and turn common citizens into watchdogs.

According to Marcos Ponce, coordinator at the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS), “The Raas is a complement to the repression system imposed by Nicolás Maduro through the Plan Zamora 200, which institutionalized the joint operations of military forces, militias and armed civilian groups as measures of public control or in any other scope they choose. This institutionalization is a confirmation of that repressive system that the Venezuelan State has been implementing.”

Moreover, he adds, the Raas is based “on the National Security Doctrine in which any citizen who tries to demand and defend human rights, voice their complaints against public management or politically oppose the government, are identified as internal enemies.”

Everyone must be an informer

The repealed Ley Sapo included the obligation of citizens to fulfill tasks of social intelligence at the authorities’ behest. Refusal resulted in prosecution. Although the Raas isn’t regulated (yet) by any law, its operation mirrors that of Cuba’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. The CDR began operations in 1960, and although their structure includes a centralized management, in practice there’s a committee per street block. The chair and members of these CDR are responsible for giving security bodies all the available information about their neighbors’ activities (a task overseen by the STASI in communist Germany, since 1950).

Although the Cuban government claims that CDR members merely work on campaigns to support the economy and boost citizen participation in assemblies or elections, this social structure has been broadly denounced as a mechanism of collective surveillance or espionage against enemies of the Cuban Revolution, as documented in reports issued by Amnesty International. CDR members are involved in so-called “acts of repudiation,” where citizens suspicious of counter-revolutionary activities are abused, intimidated and attacked.

The repealed Ley Sapo included the obligation of citizens to fulfill tasks of social intelligence at the authorities’ behest. Refusal resulted in prosecution.

Although similarities between the Raas and the CDR are evident, chavismo denies that the Raas could be used for social espionage. According to Francisco Ameliach (former National Assembly Speaker, former Chief of Staff to Hugo Chávez and PSUV organization coordinator when they decided to enable phones and emails to inform on chavistas who didn’t like Maduro), the goal of the Raas “is coordinating in each community, each street, the actions between the State and the institutions of the People’s Power, to secure the highest rate of happiness possible for the inhabitants and reach the necessary levels of organization, knowledge and skill for territorial defense in the seven scopes established by the Constitution.”

To design the Raas, Ameliach says, they applied the “point and circle [theory] proposed by Hugo Chávez, defining over 13,000 reference points all over the national territory. Based on these, we determined a radius of operation for each point, identifying and recording, to the date (September 2018), over 42,000 communities and more than 215,000 streets or sectors that make up the Raas.”

Ameliach says that, “in view of new threats of aggression issued by the Empire and its lackeys, our nation implements the strategy for the defense of all the people in all scopes. The Raas are a fundamental force to succeed in each community, each street.”

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13 COMMENTS

    • Unfair, you must have an insider advantage.

      I call Gordon FIRST !

      And how did your comment change from “First” to “Primero” ?

  1. Comments are back!. I guess Mr. Toro realized the compounded effect of lowering the standard of CC and the level of comments that the blog got.

    Like cheap bars attract not the best crowd, the CC articles in the best part of 2018 did attract people which eventually kidnapped the spirit of the discussion and made this blog almost irrelevant. Cause and effect.

    Kudos for bringing the comments back. Now it is time to tackle the quality of the articles starting from reducing the “day to day” description of a country in ruins (it is important but it is now making the bulk of what is communicated) and get into the deep, shrew and assertive political discussions that made CC, well CC.

    • There was never a problem with the comments section in my humble opinion. Some just don’t like having to hear opposing viewpoints.

      While the place was recently called a cloaca by Quico, check out this thread from 2014. Something like 800 posts (most from posters I don’t recognize), posters bashing each other over the head with lead pipes, every ugly name in the book being used by BOTH SIDES, and amazingly, not a single mention of the Magnificent Orange Bastard.

      https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2014/02/20/the-game-changed/

      Like it or not, this is a forum whose main topic is politics and when people get togther to talk politics, shit happens and things can turn ugly. If you don’t have a stomach for it, I say don’t post here. Or if you don’t like a particular poster, then don’t read his posts or respond to them.

      Having said that, thank you Quico if it is your intention to not restrict free speech here on this site. I think Churchill said it best: Where there is a great deal of free speech there is always a certain amount of foolish speech.

      I’d rather read a certain amount of foolish speech than know that we’re forced to play by the same rules Maduro uses against his political enemies.

      • My bet is that Quico saw the Chronicles ranking, hits, time on page numbers drop like a lead balloon. It was either “lets the masses in”, or become irrelevant.

        Somewhat like Dolartodays, 2 week lapse in January that destroyed their reputation, it only takes an impulsive decision by Quico do the same here.

        Quico seems clueless, that his goldmine IS THE COMMENTS.

        The articles are good for the most part, but the wide variety of people commenting here come from all professions, backgrounds, politics, with historical knowledge, and on the ground reporting that in my opinion is far more valuable and interesting.

        Lastly, I (from a business background), can not fathom, why the comments section could not be “fixed” transparently. If so BAD, for so LONG, then why on plan, develop, and update. Why shut it down, then plan, develop, and update?

        Still awaiting Naky’s replacement. (Hope Naky for a full recovery)

        • Dale, I’m not sure anyone could ever replace Naky. She not only had the patience to comb through every bullshit story offered by the goverment, she watched Cadenas for hours on end (I’d rather shoot myself in the face), and gave a perspective on what she saw that was unique.

          I miss dearly Naky’s daily updates. Heck, I live here but learned more about what was going on in this super-sized manicomio from her than anyone else.

          Godspeed Naky. Beat it. Prayers and positive vibes sent.

      • Thanks for the memory. As I said it was a different CC back then (and I had a different name as well).

        I am in agreement with you but there are (or were – time will tell -) commenters that resourced on racial and other less fortunate approaches to discuss a point.

        I think Toro could have tried to fix it differently, he resourced on pausing the exchange without changing the fundamentals. Thus, it won’t take long before someone starts calling Venezuelans indians providing a double insult for the Indians as ignorant or clueless people (which they are not) and Venezuelans for being indians which is by far a minority in our country.

  2. “Although criticism of la Ley Sapo (as the Law of Intelligence and Counterintelligence is commonly known) ”

    Also known as the Frog Law. Presumably because Venezuelan frogs are quite loquacious. And highly corruptible. From the verb “Sapear” : to rat out. As such, both animal species are correlated in the tropics.

    The Sapo, by definition, croaks all day and night: Sapea. (Unlike lizards or other reptiles).

    What seems intriguing, though, is any “Law of Intelligence and Counterintelligence” in the Third World. One would venture to opine that only “counterintelligence” exists, if at all, since Intelligence is very hard to find in the first place.

    • “Venezuelan frogs are quite loquacious”

      The coqui in Puerto Rico are the size of a dime, but make the music of a symphony.

      Maybe the difference is that they only sing at night !!

  3. Identifying who’s their historic enemy; (Identify the Red Shirts)
    Strengthening the unit to face the enemy; (Arm yourselves)
    Maximizing the will to fight against the enemy; (Hate the Chavista they way they hate you)
    Organizing and acquiring the necessary knowledge to defeat the enemy. (Find them and punish them)

    Its a double edged sword.

    These Chavistas love to go to their meetings. Find out who organizes the meetings. Now you know who is the head of the snake.

    Find out who goes to the meetings. They are the snakelets. It ain’t rocket surgery about what happens next.

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