People that have read me for a long time know that I am not one to dramatize my fate or to think myself of more important than what I am. I am just a blogger, one of those strange creatures that feel compelled to write and write, who had the immense luck to have hit a nerve with some people who enjoy reading my texts. I do not pretend to hold the truth, but I do hold my truth and I try to convey it as honestly as possible.
However things have changed in Venezuela. After the "gag law" passed a few months ago to muzzle the media, this week saw finally the publication in the official journal of new modifications to the penal code. Journalists are now routinely dumped from their jobs, when not sued. What does this mean?
Well, I will keep writing but I will have to watch more my words, at least until I understand better the implications of the new code. Not that this code was written for me, but anything that I write as of this week could be used against me years from today. Freedom of expression is indeed dead in Venezuela as auto censorship is already visible everywhere. We can still say a lot, enough actually to still bother the government and thus, inexorably, as it is inbred in this type of authoritarian regime, today's restrictions will become tomorrow "the good old days".
Do not worry, I will find a way to convey the message. But you will also need to read better in between lines, and to moderate your speech in the comment section as now "instigation to hatred" is a SUBJECTIVE notion that has become the letter of the Venezuelan legal code. I hope that I will not need to install full censorship in my comment section or to go to an all previewed forum to make sure that no one uses my blog to provoke his or her opposing side.
There is also something that you should know: I have detected an unusual pattern of people reading my posts. This has arisen in the last two weeks. In all truth I am not sure what it really means but I have consulted around and some people that are in the know have confirmed that it COULD be "people" doing more than just reading this blogger on occasion. That is right, it is possible that I am watched. Now, this should not be a surprise and nobody should dramatize this: I am quite certain that political blogs have been watched for quite a while in Venezuela (if anything because Castro has excoriated the Internet). After all, this blogger got media exposure, other blogs from Venezuela got even more exposure lately than this modest effort. So it was bound to happen. Let's just say that it is sort of official now and that I have to learn to live with it as it can only get worse with time.
Dear readers do not fret. What we sensed long ago is starting. Think instead about these places where it is much worse for bloggers, in Iran for example. Be aware, and if needs arise get ready to support Venezuelan bloggers. It will not happen tomorrow, perhaps even not this year, perhaps never, but it could happen anytime, and it could even happen first to pro Chavez bloggers who do not toe the line and who will need to be defended all the same. Venezuelan bloggers will not let this stand in our way to report to the best of our knowledge what is really going on in Venezuela.