One of them is Oswaldo Álvarez Paz. He’s just one of those guys that every Venezuelan knows who he is: long term committed politician; first governor of the powerful, oil filled Zulia State when I was a kid… No one ever imagine that he some day would be where he is: expecting possible a 16 year long sentence. He spoke on Globovision, the only opposition TV Channel that is left now, saying what everybody says: that Chavez has vinculums with FARC, and ETA and Narcos. He didn’t discover America in a glass of water, a Spain judge already said it and the news were across the globe. But he’s now accused of spreading false information and conspiracy; among other ridiculous political charges. Just because. He’s behind bars now, waiting for a trial.
The second is case is even more outrageous. Guillermo Zuloaga, the president of Globovision, spoke at the SIP (Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa, Inter – American press Society). And his words, guess what, were also against the regime. If memory doesn’t fails, he said that Chavez might had legitimacy in his origins, because he was elected as president with a majority of votes; but ever since then he’s dedicated to rule only for some Venezuelans and not for all. He said other things, if you speak Spanish read what he said here, I’ll translate it later. He was later released by the court, but have many restrictions and charges against him. What it’s really outrageous about his case is that he made those statements outside Venezuela, in Aruba where the SIP meeting was held. Our justice system only answers for what happens in our territory and have no jurisdiction for what happens outside (If I’m not mistaken).
We have already a third case in the making. A deputee has been also detained under suspicious circumstances.
I don’t really know how to say. To write almost four different posts about the subject for then publishing neither of them, is enough signal that I can’t find the write words.
First I’m shocked. It’s obvious there is no such thing as “free speech” in Venezuela. Gustavo Azócar, a famous journalist, its in jail; Patricia Poleo – another journalist – its exiled. And like them, many others. The government has closed one opposition TV Channel and as many radio stations as he could. They launched several years ago, a law that really restricts free speech under the excuse of “non suitable content for kids”; among other things. The government owns at least 5 major TV Channels and the rest, except for Globo, are not government critics. We are all aware of that. But from there, to detain a politician or an entrepreneur just because they said something against the government; it’s a whole new level. It’s when you say “this is too much”.
This is when you say: It’s enough. Really, it’s enough.
Second, I’m afraid. When the whole “Zuloaga” issue was developing, the vice president of Globovision spoke with a CNN journalist about it. At the end of the interview, the CNN journalist farewell the woman (Globo- vicepresident) saying something like “We’ll be following Zuloaga’ case, so we’ll probably call you again; if of course, you don’t end up being imprisoned for what you just said here”. She raised an eyebrow. It was priceless.
What this reporter really meant is that it could be anyone. It could her. It could any of the politicians, PhD’s, community leaders, students; anyone who makes a public statement on TV or at an international meeting every day. And why not a blogger? It could be Daniel. Or Miguel. Or me. Because a blog it’s also public. And we are not speaking well of the government’ that’s for sure.
This is on a big extent, work of our infamous general prosecutor. I wrote about her not so long ago. And I still think the same of that woman: she scares the hell out of me. She’s capable to do anything, to show Chavez her true revolutionary character. She doesn’t hesitate like the rest; she doesn’t believe there is a limit. She just twists the law, find terrific charges and it’s done.
Third, I’m embarrassed. First because it took me so long to speak on this blog about and I feel that it is my responsibility to do so. Second, because besides publishing this, I’m not doing anything else to stop this absolute madness. I haven’t even heard of any street protest, not even a comfortable cacerolazo, nothing yet. I’m ashamed of living in a country when these things can happen. And they are now in the media but soon, just like anything else that had happen under this revolution, it will be considered normal.
I wish I had smarter and stronger words to speak about this, to make a statement, to show my support and my solidarity to any actual or potential victim of this move. But the best I can come up with is that I’m embarrassed.
Fourth and last, I have hopes. I can’t explain why really but I don’t feel like other times, lying in my bed or complaining non sense with my boyfriend about the end of our world. I don’t feel defeated. I should but I just don’t. If the government is taking such extreme move; it must be for a reason. They are behaving like someone who is inside a very bad relationship, when instead of trying to save it, they start liking other people or treating the significant other worse, or showing non sense begs for attention. They seem desperate. And maybe the upcoming elections on September give us the answer. Maybe they won’t. But it is that possibility what keep us standing.
PS 1: I'm going to ask my readers a favor. Please consider that I don't do that very often. I think this situation is so serious that everyone should know it, no matter where in the world they are. So spread the news. If you have a blog, publish something this. If you don't, e-mail this post or some information to your contact. If you feel lazy about sending an email put something in your Twitter or in your Facebook status - it can be "People are going to jail in Venezuela just for speaking their minds" - Well, I can't come up with a good line... I trust you will. If Internet doesn't appeal to you, talk with the ones you know about it. To your family and co-workers. Make people aware that this is no socialist heaven.
PS 2: This can help you with the favor I'm asking. I'm giving you a short list of links of what other Venezuelan bloggers in English have said about this. This blog is for getting views, thoughts, feelings, personal anecdotes but not for accurate information. However, these links can give you that.
1. Daniel at "Venezuela news and views" has already four post on the topic. Read his post about Oswaldo's case and a conclusive piece "Chavez seeks open conflict"
2. Caracas Chronicles its also covering all. Their latest post titled "But... what did he say?" about Zuloaga, couldn't be more eloquent.
3. Check also Miguel at Devil's Excrement his post included borrowed cartoons that speak volumes.
PS 3: The brilliant image I used for this post was taken from this site: http://unadulteratedtruth.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/no_free_speech.jpg - No copyright infringement intended.