The rhetorical maze Nicolas Maduro and other PSUV officials have constructed over the past month or so – since the start of the protests – is impressive. It is a thing of wonder. With its sudden twists and unpredictable turns, this maze has no end. Once you’re inside the maze, it’s easy to become lost. You’re trapped by its own set of logic, its own understanding of the world and of international relations. As overwhelming as the maze is (and it must be so overwhelming for Venezuelans, whose senses are constantly under attack by the rhetoric of the maze), it can be escaped. To exit the maze, you must step back from it, rise above it, and give it a long, hard look.
Since the start of the protests, the government has been pretty clear on who it holds responsible for them. Here is a partial list of those the government blames for either starting, financing, instigating or in some other way assisting the protests:
1. Nazis and/or Fascists:
- Maduro, on February 12: “We must face those Nazis and fascists who want to destroy peace in our country.”
- Maduro, on February 12: “A Nazi-fascist current has emerged in the country [and it] wants to take the country to violence and chaos, but the revolutionary youth on the streets has said that they will not allow this.”
- Maduro, on February 7: “A group of 50-60 people went to attack the Cuban National Baseball team with nazi-fascists cries…. these are nazis, but they’re not looking for jews, they’re looking for Cuban brothers…. Do you think we are afraid of you, fascists?”
- Maduro, on February 20: “[Leopoldo Lopez] will have to answer [for the protests], he’s going to jail and that’s what I will do with all the fascists, wherever they may be.”
2. Middle Eastern Terrorist Mercenaries
- Maduro, on February 24: “We have just captured a mercenary from the Middle East in Aragua, we took from him 11 international telephones. They were planning the planting of car bombs to take the country to violence”
- Tarek el Aissami (Governor of Aragua State), on February 24: “We caught here in Aragua a big fish… we have detained in Maracay a citizen named Jayssam Mokded Mokded, with convincing evidence [that he was] preparing terrorist acts.”
- Diosdado Cabello, on February 24: “This is a terrorist of Arab origin. A terrorist! Of Arab origin. He was captured here by the police from Aragua state… terrorist! He was staying in a hotel in Aragua… [showing a picture of a piece of paper] here is a message that he at one time sent to the [Henrique] Capriles headquarters. I’m not saying anything, but this is a message that we found.”
3. Colombia, Panama and Chile
- Maduro, on February 19: “Tachira is being attacked from Colombia, attacked by Colombian [paramilitaries] who are against life in Tachira. They’ve burned our Mercal [supermarket], PDVAL [supermarket], they’re threatening truck drivers who are delivering medicine and food, they are attacking public institutions.”
- Maduro, on February 21: “I am calling upon them to not become part of the attack to divide Latin America by attacking Venezuela, respect our differences president Santos [of Colombia], Martinelli [of Panama], Piñera [of Chile, until March 10]… Respect the diversity of Latin America to maintain our union. Our union is worth more than our differences.” (…) The three countries “have ceded to pressure from the U.S. state department and they have risen up against Venezuela.“
- Maduro on March 5: “We’re not going to let anyone interfere with out homeland, you despicable lackey, president of Panama!“
4. Former President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe
- Maduro on February 15: “I’ve already sent a very clear message… to this news network [NTN24 from Colombia], behind which you can find the hand of a fascist enemy of Venezuela, Alvaro Uribe.” And, “Alvaro Uribe is behind the financing, and is directing, these fascist movements.“
5. The United States and CNN
- Maduro, on February 25: “CNN is the channel [that promotes coups], of manipulation.”
- Maduro on February 17, on the three U.S. consular officials expelled from Venezuela: “No one interferes in our affairs, least of all the United States…. I’ve given the order to the Chancellor of the Republic, who will inform [them] later on, to declare them personna non grata and expel from the country these three consular officials from the embassy of the United States of America in Venezuela. Let them go conspire in Washington. May they leave Venezuela alone! Let them go to Washington to conspire. Because they use any officials, from the consulate, from the embassy… to conspire, and conspire.“
In other words, Venezuela is facing a coalition of pan-American fascists, headed by the governments of Panama, Chile, but chiefly Colombia (through the financing and organization of ex-President Alvaro Uribe) and the United States, working in conjunction with national and international media waging a propaganda war against the country, together with a Nazi opposition at home that has employed, and might currently still be employing, Middle Eastern terrorist mercenaries with the goal of destabilizing the country to overthrow the government via a coup d’etat.
This most recent onslaught on the common sense of Venezuelans is all the more alarming when considering the context in which it is taking place. While these protests might be just a month old, this rhetorical maze has been under construction for the past seventeen years.
Take, for example, the Bolivarian revolution. Started by Chavez in 1997, Maduro and the PSUV are the stewards of the revolution. Just last week, at the events commemorating the first anniversary of his death, Chavez was proclaimed the “Supreme and Eternal Commander of the Revolution“. Let’s break this down.
Revolutions are finite events. They have a beginning and an end. There’s the status quo; then one day there’s a revolution that upends the status quo, the revolution accomplish its goals, and then the revolution is over. A revolution is a transitory thing. Yet Venezuela has been undergoing a revolution for the past seventeen years. How much longer until the revolution is finished? Logically, since it started, it must have an end. Right?
Well, remember now that Chavez is the “Supreme and Eternal Commander of the Revolution”, and suddenly you might get a sense for when the revolution is scheduled to be completed. That is, never. But by continuing to call it a “revolution”, it’s set up as a struggle that is happening now, is constantly happening, and must continue to happen else it will fail. We must not stop working hard at ensuring the revolution is not defeated. Fear not, for we can always count on the guidance of the Supreme and Eternal Commander of the Revolution.
The rhetorical maze built over seventeen years of PSUV rule, and reinforced over the past month by Maduro’s first real test of leadership, is a dizzying thing. It is easy to become lost in it. In fact, that’s what mazes are intended to do. They are built to entrap those who enter them. It is our duty, as rational and free thinking men and women, to question the rhetoric used by our leaders, lest we become hopelessly lost in the rhetorical maze.