The Ministro para la Transformacion de la Gran Caracas [Minister for the Transformation of Greater Caracas] Ernesto Villegas gave a radio interview today in which he said that the process of evicting the thousands of people living in the Tower of David in Caracas was approximately 38% complete.
Villegas also gave a few details regarding the eviction process. He said that to date, seven eviction phases have been completed, evicting 434 families. He also said that the process has been overwhelming peaceful and orderly:
It seemed impossible for this problem to be resolved peacefully, but we did it.
Willegas continued, saying that he did not know when the process would be completed because the government doesn’t want to put too much pressure on the remaining families to leave immediately:
We don’t want to introduce an unnecessary element of pressure on the remaining families.
One of the criticisms the government has faced regarding the eviction is that it too too long to start. Squatters first settled inside the building back in 2007. On that topic, Villegas said that “God’s time is perfect“.
Maduro Spent 7,251 Minutes En Cadena
According to numbers tallied by El Nacional, Maduro spent 7,251 minutes en cadena between January 1 and August 14 of this year. A cadena is a broadcast that, when invoked, must be carried on all television and radio channels by law.
In other words, television and radio broadcasts in Venezuela were forced to carry Maduro’s speeches for a total of 120 hours and 51, spread across 70 different cadenas, for an average of nearly 9 cadenas per month. Cadenas continue for as long as the government decrees and are often unscheduled.
Monitoreo Ciudadano, an NGO that also tracks Venezuelan cadenas, counted all government-mandated broadcasts over the same period, not just the ones featuring Maduro. According to their figures, the number of cadenas so far this year is 99, totalling approximately 300 combined hours.
Cadenas are a contentious topic in Venezuela. For one, if you don’t want to listen to Maduro speaking, the only option available is to turn off or mute your television and radio and wait for it to end.
Perhaps more importantly, their timing and intention are often up for debate. For example, so far this year, the months with the most cadenas were February, March, and April, with 19, 16, and 11, respectively. These were also the months that saw the greatest number of protests. At times of unrest or news unfavourable to the government, calling a cadena is an easy way to effectively black out media coverage.
Andrés Cañizález, the coordinator of Monitoreo Ciudadano, points out:
The government knows that cadenas are annoying, and the best evidence of this is the radical reduction in the number of cadenas during the World Cup. In fact, during the holidays that took place during that month, June 24 and July 5, cadenas were broadcast between, but never during, matches.
What this demonstrates is that the government knows what it is interrupting and at what time. This behaviour indicates that cadenas are not urgent nor indispensable; rather, they are [called] to silence whatever else is happening [at the same time]. Their purpose is another…
A clear example of Cañizález’s observation came on March 25 of this year. On that day, representatives form the MUD gave a press conference denouncing Maria Corina Machado’s arbitrary removal from the National Assembly a day earlier. The representatives began to speak at around 5:40 PM. At that same time, a cadena started, which showed Maduro at an event commemorating the Battle of San Mateo in 1814. The cadena lasted til 6:10 PM, effectively rendering the MUD press conference useless.