Symbolic Or Pathetic
We’ll get to our Down The Rabbit Hole segment in just a bit but first…Caracas Chronicles had an interesting piece titled “Chavismo Still Harnessing The Power Of Symbols.” The mayor of Caracas announced a new anthem, coat of arms, and flag for the city of Caracas. The coat of arms had been around since colonial times (which shouldn’t really be glorified). The new coat of arms glorifies Chavez’s so-called ‘revolution’, which really shouldn’t be glorified either. The attempt at legitimacy for the regime, while pathetic, is nothing new. One of the first things Chavez did after coming to power was change the flag and coat of arms of Venezuela to symbolize the new Venezuela.
Chavismo appropriates indigenous symbols while marginalizing indigenous peoples. We’ve talked before about Maduro’s TSJ (supreme court) barring 3 indigenous deputies to the National Assembly from the state of Amazonas from taking office to prevent the opposition from obtaining a super majority which would have enabled them to confront the Chavista’s power. It was illegal, unconstitutional, and had nothing to do with the indigenous deputies. They did it anyway and it’s worth noting that they were never replaced leaving the indigenous peoples of the area without representation. 2016 was not a good year for the indigenous at the hands of Chavismo. Later that year after the affront to their representation Maduro announced the creation of the “Mining Arc” which devastated the environment of the ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples as well as their communities. Despite their cultural appropriation and constant reminders of how much they care about indigenous people they do nothing but harm them.
“The comical excess of symbolism melded with Chavista iconography evidences a desperate need for legitimacy (hence the constant demands for respect from the international community)….allows the government to hide it’s failures behind a superficial layer of socialist ideology.”
If you want some real symbolism check out this piece in Digital Journal.Venezuelans have a tradition at Easter called the “Burning of Judas”. They burn an effigy of a hated person and this year things got a bit crowded. They needed a four-headed mannequin with the likenesses of their four most hated people, Vladimir Putin, Nicolas Maduro, Carmen Melendez (mayor of Caracas), and Nestor Reverol (Minister of Electric Energy). I can hardly wait ’til next year…Steven Segal maybe…?
Then we have Latin Times reporting that a man died after a ‘surgeon’ accidentally left a pair of scissors in the man’s stomach at University Hospital in Maracaibo. You hear stories about little things like sponges being left inside people but scissors… really? I’m glad I put off my hernia surgery until I could escape the wonderful world of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism. And what’s even worse is before you can get surgery you have to bring a list of items required for treatment including things like soap and gloves. I wonder if scissors were on the list?
And speaking of medical treatment, Telesur (government media) reports the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent traveled to Venezuela for a medical check-up at the invitation of Nicolas Maduro. I guess he didn’t see the story out of Maracaibo.
Then we have Morning Star reporting that PCV (Communist Party of Venezuela), Oscar Figueroa, rejected an offer by the opposition to partner with PCV in the 2024 presidential election. He did stress, however, that they would be presenting a candidate that was an alternative to Maduro. Diosdado Cabello (2nd most powerful Chavista) was not pleased. PCV needs to be careful as a few of their leaders have been killed or ‘disappeared’ since the November elections where they opposed Chavismo. Remember, Maduro accused them of being “imperialist puppets trying to divide and bring down ‘the Revolution’…”
Now let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….
In 2013 the oppression of free speech (and oppression in general) snowball continued rolling downhill. Created by official decree (Maduro began ruling by decree almost immediately after taking power due to the emergency in the country, yes, that’s the same emergency the Chavistas deny exists… you can’t make this stuff up) CESPPA, the Strategic Center for Security and Protection of the Fatherland (why do I get nervous when I hear ‘the fatherland’?) would be given broad powers that again were vaguely defined, following their recipe for rights abuse. “The law is what we say it is and our powers are what we say they are.”
When 2014, the year of the “Guarimba” rolled around we got a glimpse of what the future held in store for the Venezuelan people. Remember, these protests were primarily related to food and medicine shortages and occurred before even Obama’s initial sanctions in 2015 (which were directed at individuals). Maduro used the Resorte Law 103 times during this period. It was the first time I ever heard of someone being jailed for “fomenting economic chaos” when the manager of a pharmacy chain committed the unforgivable sin of not having enough cashiers to handle the long lines.
CONATEL, the National Telecommunications Commission, had been previously semi-autonomous but was now basically an extension of the executive branch. The heavy hand of the government came down on all forms of media and practicing journalism without a degree and proper credentials became a jail-able offense punishable by 3-6 months in prison.
In 2014 the Press and Society Institute reported 1/3 of journalists declined to report information vital to public interest for fear of personal security. Over the Maduro years, as attacks and harassment ratcheted up, many journalists simply left the country.
Media that resisted government control were eventually forced to sell to undisclosed buyers.Two examples are Globovision, the last television network that was even remotely neutral politically, and El Universal, the nation’s oldest newspaper. Editors and reporters resigned or were fired and coverage became more favorable to the government.
Then came the massive protests of 2017 which we’ve previously discussed regarding the government’s repression and all the people killed, injured, and jailed but we didn’t get into the media aspect. In 2017 the Maduro regime closed 40 radio stations. From 2013-2017 over 3/4 of all newspapers were closed (the government controlled all newsprint distribution). In the first four months of 2017 there were over 200 attacks on journalists.
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