Things have been fairly quiet over the last few days. Easter is almost here, and it seems like the country is settling in to a restive period. Although I keep hearing about demonstrations in the usual hot spots, it hasn’t been anything like it was two months ago.
I was asked the following question today: “When Maduro talks, who’s he talking to? Is he talking to Venezuelans, or is he trying to get a message across to an international audience, or both?”
The rhetoric Maduro and Diosdado Cabello in particular tend to use (the opposition are Neo-Nazis, regular Nazis, fascists, Colombian paramilitaries, Middle Eastern terrorists, etc.) is your standard “Us good, them bad” run-of-the-mill political talk.
For example, I remember back around February 12 when the protests started that Maduro waved a book and spent some time talking about it during a speech he was making. The title of the book escapes me – but I believe it was something like “The Rise of the Nazis” and it was an account of the rise to power of Nazism in Germany. He directly compared this event to what was happening in Venezuela at the time.
Remember when Maduro said that they had evidence that a “Middle Eastern terrorist” had been hired by the opposition to unleash a car bombing campaign, and Diosdado Cabello spent one night of his show talking about it? And that the terrorist had a bunch of numbers and bank accounts of contacts outside of the country, including in Colombia? And remember what ended up happening with that? You don’t, because nothing really came of it.
Henrique Capriles is often the target of this kind of inflammatory language. Diosdado Cabello called Henrique Capriles a “fascist murderer” in a Tweet just last week. This is currently posted on the front page of the PSUV website:
Hoy, 15 de abril se cumple un año de la violencia fascista incitada por el candidato perdedor Henrique Capriles Radonski, quien en un acto autodemocrático, irresponsable e intencional, en la búsqueda de desestabilizar el país, hizo un llamado a sus seguidores a desconocer los resultados electorales del 14 de abril y a descargar la “arrechera”, dejando como consecuencia 11 dolorosas muertes de hombres, mujeres, un niño y una niña, patriotas que tras el triunfo de Nicolás Maduro, el hijo de Chávez, salieron a festejar y defender la Revolución.
Today, April 15, is the one year anniversary of the fascist violence incited by the losing candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, who in an autodemcratico [“anti democratic”, I think], irresponsible and intentional act, looking to destabilize the country, made a call to his followers to reject the electoral results of April 14 and to discharge the “arrechera” [roughly, “intense anger”], as a consequence leaving 11 painful deaths of men, women, and a boy and a girl [children], patriots who after the triumph of Nicolas Maduro, the son of Chavez, went out to celebrate and defend the Revolution.
When it comes to proving that Capriles and by connection the opposition are fascist murderers, the PSUV often brings up the event referenced in the text above, when Capriles called for people to “descargue esa arrechera” (“discharge” or “unleash” their anger) after the opposition lost the presidential elections last year. Here is the clip of Capriles saying that:
And here is what he said in English:
At 8:00 PM, in a little bit, in 45 minutes, let it echo, hit your pots and pans, hit them hard. Discharge that… well, all of that, that arrechera. Discharge it, discharge it there [making the motion with his hands]. Hit it hard. Hit it hard, and let it be heard around the world.
In Venezuela, there is a particular form of protest called cacerolazo, where people bang on pots and pans to make a lot of noise as a form of protest. The cacerolazo is a relatively safe form of protest, which allowed it to become a fairly common tactic. It’s something you can do from inside your own home, without risking going out on the street. My family and I participated in one cacerolazo from kitchen window, back in 2007 when the government shut down RCTV, a popular TV station. I still get chills when I think about that night. I’ve never heard a noise like the banging of hundreds, thousands of pots of pans echoing through Caracas like they did that night. You can also hear people banging pots in some of the videos I’ve posted in this thread.
What’s important to remember, and what Maduro and the PSUV never bring up, is that Capriles was talking about “discharging anger” by banging on pots and pans. Caprile’s appeal was one to catharsis, not violence. Capriles was clearly and unambiguously asking people to take part in a cacerolazo when he made those comments. He even keeps making the motions of “banging a pot with a spoon” as he’s saying it. But the government conveniently takes the words out of context, calls him a fascist murderer, and blames the deaths on him. This is fairly typical of the level of substance the attacks Maduro launches on the opposition.
Similarly, Leopoldo Lopez is in jail because he’s a murderer: so says the government. He’s being held personally responsible for the deaths that have happened during these protests. Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano have been removed from their offices and are also in jail on similar charges, that they were somehow responsible for the “fascist violence” in their respective municipalities.
In other words, it is evident that most of the inflammatory rhetoric used by Maduro and other PSUV figures is just way of justifying attacks on the opposition. There is no better way to discredit an opponent before an undiscerning audience than to attach to them the labels of the biggest bad guys in the last 100 years: Nazis and terrorists.