Just Not Getting It
We’ll get started on this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment tomorrow or Wednesday as it’s a short one, but first…let’s talk about the biggest news of the week. That would be Elon Musk buying Twitter. Caracas Chronicles asked the question, “What could this mean for Twitterzuela? (a reference to the ‘Twitter-sphere’ in Venezuela). Their article seemed to be fearful of Twitter being a private company with Elon Musk paying a purchase price equal to Venezuela’s GDP. I found it very interesting in that, just as in the US, what they are afraid of is what they have now and they really don’t understand the concept of “free speech.”
The article said that specialists and digital rights activists worried that Elon Musk’s proposed changes could undermine democracies rather than strengthen them. I’m reminded of the old saying, “People get so comfortable in a rut they’ll furnish it.” Numerous references were made, both in the article and in the US media, to “content moderation”. Somehow people have lost sight of the fact that although “content moderation” sounds better it’s really just censorship and censorship is bad! Period!
“Content moderation” (censorship) should not be confused with the need for monitoring of excessive volumes of inorganic activity which would protect us from government (Maduro regime and US government and media) disinformation. People worry that Musk may abuse his newfound power to silence voices. Uhh…excuse me but what do they think is going on now? Everything they are concerned about Musk “possibly doing” is what’s going on today and it’s this abuse that allowed Joe Biden to be elected. 17% of Democrats polled said if they knew about the Hunter Biden/ Biden family corruption they would not have voted for him. Twitter, Face Book, Google, and others killed the story labeling it “disinformation” but now we come to find out it was true. It should have been allowed and would have saved the US from the worst President of my lifetime. In what was a very contested election, if you remove 17% of Biden’s votes then Donald Trump is President.
One of the things I like about Elon Musk is that as he explains what he wants to do he doesn’t claim to have all the answers. What he is trying to fix at Twitter and by extension Face Book and others is what the problem really is…a lack of transparency regarding rules and algorithms. All these platforms currently use rules and algorithms to ban people but they don’t publish those rules and algorithms so we can judge exactly what the “violations” are other than content they don’t like (or agree with) and therefore the content needs to be moderated (censored). What exists now is similar to the vague “Hate Speech Law” in Venezuela.
“Hate Speech Laws” are very dangerous things because it’s “Hate Speech” according to whom? As we’ve seen with Chavismo “Hate Speech” is what they say it is and in Venezuela you can be imprisoned for that. Social media platforms “moderate content” (censor) that “it deems harmful”. Who or what is deciding exactly what should be “deemed harmful”? Musk contends that, when in doubt, speech should be allowed. It gets back to another old saying, ” I don’t agree with what you’re saying but I defend your right to say it.” The transparency Musk wants regarding rules and algorithms puts everything out there and we can judge for ourselves. How can that be a bad thing?
What many people don’t understand about Free Speech is that censorship, or as the social media platforms are fond of saying “content moderation”, leads to self-censorship, which is very common today. People are afraid to be banned from these platforms (or in the case of Venezuela imprisoned) so they do not speak out. When people do not speak out they can be complicit in wrongdoing and abuses by their silence. Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran Pastor and early supporter of the National Socialist movement in Germany in the 1930s, ultimately imprisoned by the Nazis, said it best :
“First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist.”
“Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.”
“Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.”
“Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Are you getting it?
Moving on…We have Havana Times reporting that the Costa Rica President-elect will review the recognition of Juan Guaido as legitimate President of Venezuela. Sounds like he’s been listening to the president of Argentina.
And SBS News reports “Heavy rain brings destruction to Venezuela.” We talked the other day about the effect that deforestation has during periods of heavy rain.
And on that note, we have Telesur (government media) reporting that Venezuela governors are evaluating a plan for victims of the recent rains. At least this time the Maduro regime doesn’t have to usurp the power of the governor (in favor of the illegitimate position of ‘Protector of the People’) in Tachira state. He’s Chavista.
And we have Cuenca High Life reporting that part of the Pan Am highway was closed due to landslides. It’s the same part that was closed for 20 days last month due to the same problem, rains.
Then we have Argus Media reporting that the Venezuela opposition leadership continues to demand significant political reform before supporting any US plan to lift sanctions as a means to ease oil supply concerns. The CSIS (Center for Strategic International Studies) believes part of the Biden administration wants to continue dialogue with the Maduro regime, possibly in Trinidad and Tobago. (Yes folks, it’s still possible that no matter how bad an idea it is Biden and his people may do it)
And we have Fox News saying that the Biden administration will help boost Venezuela oil production, which is currently insufficient to supply oil to the US even if a sanctions lifting for oil deal is reached, by approving licenses for four oilfield service companies as well as Chevron but won’t support increasing US oil production. As we’ve said before, even though it makes no sense, the decision will be made by polling and focus groups ahead of the mid-term elections in the US in November.
Then we have Americas Quarterly contending that ELN, Latin America’s largest insurgency and committed to protecting the Maduro regime, may be a stumbling block to US / Venezuela talks. They are already jeopardizing the Maduro regime’s capacity to change course ie; meaningful reform such as a return to democratic rule and economic stability. My take…the Maduro regime doesn’t care.
And we have LSE reporting that in Venezuela for the years from 2011 – 2019 more than 1/2 of the medical doctors have left the country and that health facilities have lost 60% of their capacity. FYI, the Maduro regime contends there is no healthcare crisis in Venezuela… “Nothing to see here.”
Then we have El Pitazo reporting that a protest by Bari and Wayuu indigenous people turned violent as they clashed with police. They are calling for an immediate election in the municipality of Jesus Maria Semprus to replace the mayor installed by Maduro. Good luck with that. When the three indigenous deputies (representatives) of Amazonas, duly elected I might add, were disqualified, six years ago, they were never replaced leaving those indigenous communities without representation.
And in honor of “International Workers Day” I can’t help but think about a scene from the HBO series “Chernobyl” where a nuclear scientist is trying to alert the head of the USSR’s nuclear regulatory ministry to the radiation leakage and potential for a nuclear meltdown. She made the point that she was a nuclear scientist and he was a former shoe factory worker installed in his position due to party loyalty. He responded “Yes, I worked in a shoe factory…but now I’m in charge…Here’s to the workers of the world!” He went on to rely on the party reports rather than the information from the nuclear scientists leading to the worst nuclear disaster in history.
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