Image: Sofía Jaimes Barreto
In the 17 years since Caracas Chronicles was founded, it’s probably the question I’ve heard most often: why not do it in Spanish?
The answers have changed over that time. Back when it was just a personal blog, I tended to go with “because I went to school in English and it just comes more naturally.” Later, as it morphed into a group blog, it was “because there’s tons of great reporting about Venezuela in Spanish but a real dearth of insider perspectives in English.”
Why not do it in Spanish?
Over time, both rationales lost relevance. As more and more Spanish language sites got absorbed into the chavista hive mind, quality coverage became harder and harder to find in Spanish. And when Rafa Osío Cabrices took over as Editor in Chief, the “more natural” standard shifted as well.
Leaving us to ask…wait, why not do it in Spanish?
Which is why, today, we’re unveiling Cinco8: a Caracas Chronicles sister publication en español.
But Cinco8 isn’t just “Caracas Chronicles in Spanish” — it’s a brand new site by the same team that’s been putting together Caracas Chronicles geared specifically at a Venezuelan audience.
Cinco8 is based on the critical insight that Venezuelan society has changed, decisively, under the impact of mass migration. Not so long ago, Venezuelanness pretty much overlapped with the geographic boundaries of Venezuela. That’s no longer true. Mass migration has introduced a dichotomy that’s becoming definitional to our nation: inside and outside.
Because it’s the internet era, those who’ve left haven’t entirely left: we’re indissolubly linked with the country by information flows that we can’t turn off even if we want to. But it’s not just the tyranny of WhatsApp, it’s the human bonds with family members left behind, and the economic bonds that come with becoming a remittance society.
And those who’ve stayed haven’t entirely stayed either. They’re linked to the outside not just by the little green phone logo but also by their dependence on the money their family-members’ send and by the constant clarion call of emigration as the universal Plan B.
Venezuelanness has becomes what happens in that tension between Inside and Outside, it’s become a society driven by the cleavages in the verb “irse”, a place defined for those who’ve stayed by the old Clash song (“should I stay or should I go now?”) and for those who’ve gone by the old Elvis ballad (“home is where the heart is…”)
Cinco8 is based on a critical insight: Venezuelan society has changed, decisively, under the impact of mass migration.
Stunted by the hand of censorship, the Venezuelan public sphere hasn’t really adapted to this new reality. And that’s where we hope Cinco8 can leave its mark: becoming the first site that turns a critical eye on the Venezuela of the Inside/Outside era.
Cinco8 is for Venezuelans, wherever they may be. That’ll free Caracas Chronicles to become more narrowly targeted at non-Venezuelans: bringing an insider perspective on our crisis to English-readers from around the world. The sites will share some content, in translation, but not all of it. Although they share an editorial staff, they serve different purposes for different audiences. We think it’s cleaner this way, and we think each has a critical contribution to make in Venezuela’s darkest hour.