Wednesday, May 12, 2004

In the Venezuelan war of words how to get to the truth?

Even more important how to reach a dialogue?

During these recent events one thing that strikes the casual observer of the Venezuelan scene is the vehemence from both sides. The government for example demands that all of the opposition backs unflinchingly its action against the alleged paramilitary invasion. The opposition on the other hand has a few voices that would not even consider that there might just be a kernel of truth in the whole business. So perhaps it might be interesting to scrutinize the language that each side uses to see if by any chance one can find clues as to why the information does not circulate as it should, masked by the personal feelings that people have toward the central figure of Chavez.

It is not for me to judge the opposition language since after all I am part of the opposition. No matter what I wrote I would be questioned. But I would welcome a guest poster in this blog if someone would bother to write in English such comments. Today as an example I will limit myself to scrutinize a recent article by

Venezuelanalysis is a web site in English dedicated at promoting the goodness of the Bolivarian Revolution led by Hugo Chavez Frias, Venezuela’s president. Nothing wrong with that of course. After all, this blog itself is dedicated to quite the contrary. The example I chose to look at is Mr. Sanchez article of May 11. Before Mr. Sanchez gets on my case (which would be fair) I want to state clearly that I am going to examine the form of the article rather than the factual contents, assuming that indeed the 100 + paramilitary are what the government says they are.

Let’s look first at some word choices:

Six hundred bulletproof vests were found inside the house of National Guard Capitan Douglas Perez Perez in the wealthy eastern Caracas neighborhood of Prados del Este.

The house [of former president Carlos Andres Perez] located in the wealthy neighborhood of Oripoto

the fact that the neighbors of the upper-class sections where the raids were conducted

Not bad for a one page article!!! What is the purpose of insisting so heavily on something that after all has little relevance? I will let the reader speculate at will.

The other interesting thing is how Mr. Sanchez glosses over significant inconsistencies.

The director of Venezuela's investigative police DISIP, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, announced yesterday that authorities have conducted a number of raids leading to some arrests, but refused to give details on some of the raids in order to avoid putting other suspects on alert.

Is there any “suspect” unaware at this stage of the game?

According to Rodriguez, the vests are part of a lot that was supposed to be incinerated. Authorities will investigate why Capitan Perez was storing the vests in his house. Perez was under house arrest since May of 2003 after he was found guilty of smuggling Chinese immigrants into the country. Rodriguez said the vests were to be used by the paramilitaries.

How could this testimony be given any credibility? To which side does belong Perez?

Now let's move on to the media comments.

Said ex-president Perez in an interview from Miami with the opposition-aligned Union Radio network. [and, two lines below] Perez declared to several media outlets that the capture of the paramilitaries was a hoax

So, what are we supposed to assume? That all Miami media are “opposition aligned”? That Perez declares only to opposition outlets?

Radio Nacional de Venezuela, a state owned radio network, informed that nine other paramilitaries were captured yesterday morning.

All radios informed that, RNV might have informed it first because the government only talks to it. Again, how are we supposed to interpret this type of detail?

"We have struck a blow to the kidney of coup-plotters, destabilizers, and terrorists," Chavez said.

I know I am a little bit picky, but it was the liver, not the kidney.

Again, I am limiting myself to the form, I am not commenting on the contents of the message. Unfortunately when one reads such things it is difficult to conceive how constructive dialogue could be undertaken between both sides of the chasm that now rends the Venezuelan body. The effect of Mr. Sanchez, no matter what his best informative intentions were, is to try to have the reader side with him by emotion, not by facts even if those were irrefutable.

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