Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The banality of evil, Caracas style

Tonight I twitted this:

In English: Listening to {prosecutor} Nieves I keep thinking of Hannah Arendt and the banality of evil.

One of the top prosecutors in the Leopoldo Lopez show trial has defected to the US and is now saying that the whole operation against Lopez was a scam, that the intention was to put him away for the election of 2015 and more. In fact Nieves went as far as to say, more or less, that the order to arrest Lopez already existed before the events for which he was finally arrested in February 2014.

Franklin Nieves was tonight in the top CÑNe rating show of Fernando del Rincon. Mr. del Rincon rocketed from a CNNE anchor to his own nightly talk show, Conclusiones, as a consequence of his daring reports on Venezuela through the first half of 2014. He has become the journalist to go for any trouble in Latin America, and the specialist on Venezuela, much loved by the opposition, and much more reviled by the regime.

I am not going into the details of what Nieves said (for those who read Spanish you can visit my Tweeter time line of Tuesday night). In short, he stated that all the evidence against Lopez was fabricated, that he received orders to prosecute anyway on those fake evidences, that all knew about that in the regime, that Diosdado Cabello himself was supervising the first orders and that he fooled the Lopez family in making them believe that if Lopez surrendered nicely a deal would be reached. He accused directly Maduro and Cabello and some of the top officials at the state prosecuting office in such a way that the regime will have to do better than just using the worn out line "he is a liar, paid by the nemesis of the revolution" (which he may well be for all that I know, but that is not the point). There is a situation now that will make supporting the regime almost impossible for some of its allies.

No, my interest is elsewhere. First, let's us start with the one with easiest access: why is the US covering for all those defectors? Is it a strategy to encourage them to defect the regime so as to build a case against its corrupt narco officials? In that case, how come indictments and active prosecutions are not coming through faster? In short, why are the US giving some (minor) credit to some of the accusations the regime hurls at them? I am writing that because informed people know better, know that the regime is indeed a rotten corrupt system, that is not investigated by the US alone. But too many use the people's ignorance and misinformation, even inside the opposition, in such ways that it helps the regime case. I am also writing this so that readers realize that I am not in a blind rage as I type.

There is some confusing evil above, but there is real evil next.

What has struck me more was the composure of Nieves during the whole interview, even as del Rincon was trying not to break down under the shock of having all of his antidemocratic accusations against the regime thus validated.

That made me think of Hanna Arendt, the Eichman trial, the basic nature of totalitarianism the way she explained, creating "the banality of evil".  At least Arendt was writing her seminal books based on people following orders. I suppose that concentration camp guards did not have access to Tweeter to get contrasting news to what the Reich told them everyday.  Even if pathetic, the defenses of "I was just following orders" " I did not know" "Nobody told me anything, nobody knew" could make one doubt on occasion if the lines were pronounced then with an empty enough glance.

But with Nieves such excuses cannot apply. Nieves tonight told us he knew what he was doing all along was wrong, was a crime, was an abuse of Human Rights. He knew all along that the regime wanted Lopez jailed, found guilty while it figured out, I imagine, a final solution to the Lopez problem.

Nieves knew and yet he did. And I do not buy much his crocodile tears at seeing Lopez little girl go to the same school as the prosecutor's orphan maker girl being too much for him and making him decide to defect.

What was shocking tonight is that all the actors were following orders, indeed, but knowing full well that the orders were wrong. In the end it does not really matter whether Cabello is the one that gave the original order, what matters here is that the chavista regime has been a totalitarian regime for quite a while as the behavior of the people at the nation's prosecution office show. This is way beyond debating whether the regime can be described as a dictatorship. This is a neo-totalitarian system as I have long ago coined it as a tag for some of this blog entries.

In the end one is left perplexed in trying to figure which is the worst evil. The ones giving orders? The ones executing it? The ones confessing to them without much trouble? And thus it all becomes banal.

PS: interview now up for those who understand Spanish


  1. IslandCanuck7:56 AM

    In any civilized country there would immediately be retrails of every case this idiot touched.

    Of course, not in Venezuela.

    The reactions of the PSUV higher ups has been pretty pathetic from Diaz saying that her department never puts pressure on prosecuters to someone else saying that he stayed quiet too long (which to me is an admission of the truth).

    Lopez will continue to rot in jail until we throw these bastards out.

    1. IslandCanuck10:40 AM

      To further illustrate my comment above:

      ND / 28 oct 2015.- El diputado a la Asamblea Nacional por el Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (Psuv), Freddy Bernal, aseguró que las declaraciones del fiscal Franklin Nieves en el programa Conclusiones de CNN en Español solo buscan desestabilizar Venezuela.

      Not a word as to whether what Nieves said is true or not

  2. "No, my interest is elsewhere. First, let's us start with the one with easiest access: why is the US covering for all those defectors? Is it a strategy to encourage them to defect the regime so as to build a case against its corrupt narco officials?"

    Very doubtful. The US immigration polices are chaotic. The US 0bama administration is not focused in the slightest on South America. But the bureaucracy is huge and that would allow anyone with a decent lawyer and a coherent story that he is being persecuted could ask for asylum. Unless the 0bama administration or someone high up in it steps in, asylum cases can take a couple years or longer to settle. Therefore, the Judge can reasonably expect that even if he gets denied asylum, it will be quite a while for it to happen. He would have a good idea he is not getting asylum in plenty of time to try somewhere else.

  3. Anonymous3:12 PM

    Nieves had an out without facing a long jail sentence for himself by leaving Venezuela, before the final prosecution and conviction of Lopez, therefore "I just followed orders" is not a valid excuse here. Furthermore, had he escaped and told his story beforehand, the regime would have had quite a bit of trouble in proceeding to convict Lopez.

    This is entirely different from the military command structure where one is supposed to follow orders no matter what and in rogue regimes, such as Germany's IIIrd Reich, the option was death by firing squad (or a more "elegant" solution like the one for Field Marshal Rommel).

    The Milgram Obedience Study ( is an interesting experiment on human obedience to perceived authority, even if there are no consequences to not following orders. About 65% of the subject obeyed. I would believe that this result would be very close to 100%, if the option of not obeying is death or a very long jail time.


    1. Are you sure that Nieves could have gotten out of Venezuela with his family? Once he was appointed as the judge for the case, it seems unlikely to me that he could just leave and bring the family with him.


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