Political Pornography – New Dirty War in Venezuela
Political Pornography – The New Dirty War in Venezuela
It is not stretching a point to call the latest Venezuelan rightwing salvo political pornography. In a last-ditch attempt to resist the tsunami of support for PSUV candidates, a million copies of a video produced by an organisation called SYNERGIA began circulating throughout the country ten days ago, and broadcasting on rightwing television channel, Globovision.
SYNERGIA, the Venezuelan Association of Organizations of Civil Society, is composed of several organisations such as "Radar de los Barrios" ("Radar of the Neighbourhoods"), "Liderazgo y Visión" (Leadership and Vision"), and "Unión Vecinal para la Participación Ciudadana" (Local Union for Civil Participation").
Bush's dirty fingers in the pie
They openly admit to receiving funding from Banco Venezolano de Crédito, the Venezuelan Bank of Credit, but are more coy about their cosy relationship with big business, certain 'religious' groups, but especially their big foreign sponsors, USAID and Development Alternatives Inc. It is no secret that successive Bush administrations have been openly and increasingly funding the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to channel millions of dollars through USAID to local "NGOs" to destabilise various Latin American governments under the guise of promoting "democracy." (see Eva Golinger´s books The Chavez Code, and Bush versus Chavez - Washington´s War on Venezuela)
SYNERGIA's claim that this latest series of videos and pamphlets are "a tool put in the hands of the citizenship to contribute information and to reflection on topics of significance to the effectiveness of our democratic values and the full exercise of our constitutional law" sits uncomfortably with a "Leadership and Vision" – commissioned impact evaluation report produced by Data C.A. earlier this year on the first phase of their destabilisation campaign, carried out prior to the Referendum vote in December 2007.
As Data C.A. were able to report, the key messages of Leadership and Vision's "ideological education" in that "social pedagogy campaign" were "clearly understood and remembered by the different audiences, being later integrated into their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours."
The main components of this 'ideological education' were, also unsurprisingly, "simple easily understood and remembered messages repetitively expressed through cliches or colloquialisms, and which can therefore be later integrated without problems into daily language and values, taking root in the subconscious. They shouldhide the ideological message while taking advantage of fears and atavistic prejudices, particularly about socialism, property, and the family."
Dirty-tricks videos are much less messy than cleaning up all that blood, they don't require political prisons, and they avoid the pesky problem of refugees spilling the beans in other countries.
worked in NAZI Germany, so why not in
Having succeeded in generating doubt and confusion for last year's referendum, contributing significantly to three million people abstaining from the vote, this year's campaign seeks to convince last year's abstainers to vote for the opposition this time round, stealing Obama's catchphrase "Time for a Change". Resorting to a communication style familiar in Nazi Germany, where commentary about Jews was accompanied by images of rats swarming across the screen, SYNERGIA's first offering shows a school with overflowing rubbish bins next to it, and surprise surprise, a rat features in the first sentence. Flaunting 50 years of slick marketing and psychological warfare techniques, this campaign cynically refines psycho-political manipulation by using the language of the Constitution, and sometimes of Chavez himself, to distort the message and manipulate the less-politically savvy.
Socialism the real target
Under the guise of providing information, the campaign attacks areas of demonstrable social progress such as health, education, housing, and public sanitation, dedicating a chapter in the video to each. Continually drawing distinctions between individualism (good) and collectivism (bad), the video minimises, ignores, or grossly misrepresents areas of enormous improvement since 1998. For example, given that before Chavez there was absolutely no rubbish collection at all, the chapter on public sanitation criticises the Government for lack of consultation because they put in rubbish bins without asking the people first! The chapter on health claims that the public hospitals have been run into the ground, when in fact a free four-level health care system is in development, with thousands of community clinics already opened and integrated diagnostic centres (CDIs) established, providing medical services to people who had never previously had ANY form of health service, and free medications. Existing hospitals are being upgraded and specialist hospitals built, to serve not just Venezuela but the entire of Latin America, the first of which, the Ochoa Rodriguez children's cardiology hospital, is already operational.
Interestingly, most doctors working in the public hospital system do so half time, and have private practices...which they resource by stealing equipment from the public system. A professor in the Faculty of Medicine told us that before Chavez, a patient would only be admitted to a public hospital if their doctor worked there and pulled strings – forget need, it was who you knew, and paid a kickback to. These doctors are hurting because the population is now getting free quality state-provided health care.
The education sector is criticised on the grounds that teachers have to strike for more wages – the reality check is that as in many Latin American countries, Venezuelan children only go to school either in the morning, or in the afternoon, so teachers collect two wages, one for the morning session and one for the afternoon. Chavez proposed that all children attend school all day – and teachers went on strike because they would lose their double-dip.
Distorting the Constitution to sideline
The ideological offensive is not just restricted to social issues - because just about every Venezuelan has already personally benefitted and because current and proposed policies, programmes and initiatives will continue to improve their lot, and given the extraordinarily high popularity of Chavez himself, the campaign takes a new twist, and tells people that central government should have nothing to do with issues such as health, education, housing, public sanitation, that they should all be decided at the municipal level!
Subverting Chavez' initiatives in promoting development through the devolution of power and resources to local communities, in a bizarre sleight of hand the video distorts the encouragement of communities to form community councils to take some responsibility for improving local conditions, and the Constitutional requirement for municipal and regional governors to make a commitment to addressing problems of crime, health, education, housing. It morphs from being a requirement that municipal and regional governors commit to these issues, to stating that they are the ONLY ones permitted to address them! The function of community councils is similarly revised, ie to make demands of governors and mayors, rather than communities working together with their governors to improve their neighbourhoods.
Where is Mission Robinson when you need
They also have a go at participatory democracy, accusing central government of failing to consult the people, and of trying to smuggle in reforms. In a country which has had some seven elections or referendums since Chavez was elected in 1998, citing lack of consultation is laughable The facts speak for themselves:
1998 - Presidential election - Chavez gets 56% of the vote.
1999 - Referendum to enact the new Constitution - 72%,
2000 - Presidential election – Chavez gets 60%
2000 – Labour Union Reform Referendum – 62%
2004 – Recall Referendum - 59% favour Chavez
2006 – Presidential election – Chavez wins 63%
2007 – Constitutional Referendum – lost by 51% to 49%
It seems the members of SYNERGIA, USAID, NED, and the Bush administration could all benefit from learning to count...and to read, especially the defining characteristic of democracy - majority rule.
As to smuggling in reforms – how a public referendum that the opposition "won" could be deemed to be smuggling in reforms is a question best answered by Manuel Rosales, the opposition leader who stood against Chavez in the last presidential elections. His fleet of aircraft and arsenal of weapons seized recently on the Colombian border suggest he is the most qualified to speak on this topic, but unfortunately he is much too busy trying to smuggle himself out of the country to answer it – let alone to appear in court to answer the fraud charges against him.
Tomorrow will tell whether the second phase of SYNERGIA's US-backed psy-war against the Bolivarian Revolution bore fruit – or if was just the last rotten apple falling from a dying Bush.
Pics of Chavez´ Final election rally
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10,000 at final Chavez Rally
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Babies con Chavez!
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Chavez goes wild for the crowd
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Crowd goes wild for Chavez
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Peruvians con Chavez