The Chávez Constitutional
26/01/2013 1 comentario
It’s been 2 weeks now since Venezuela’s telecom regulator served a cease-and-desist order on Venezuela’s last free-to-air opposition broadcaster, Globovision. Some recent content, station was told, broke the law by “inciting hate, panic or disturbing public order”. What did the offending footage contain? Call to rebellion? No, just the text of Article 231 of Venezuelan Constitution. The specifics of dispute concern ailing president’s bizarre in absentia inauguration. The government, to finesse the crude problem of Hugo Chávez’s being bed-ridden in Cuba, has interpreted Constitution’s clauses about oath of office so as to allow Chávez to be sworn in whenever he feels better, rather than on Jan. 10, as specified in Article 231 of Constitution. Globovision’s clips called attention to this by simply broadcasting video footage of high-ranking officials mouthing the government’s position juxtaposed with the relevant text of Constitution, lest we forget, was drafted under Chávez’s government, by his supporters, with his wholehearted support. Broadcasting this clip, or any message might be similar, we’re now told, incites hatred, so it must be censored. It matters little Chávez’s own Constitution also bans government censorship of the media: See Article 58. I would’ve given anything to see Globovision run a second series of clips quoting Article 58, but the station probably figured it would get slammed again for inciting hate or panic or disturbing the public order. I’ve been watching the politics of Chávez era minutely, day by day, for 14 years now. You’d think my capacity for surprise would be pretty well tapped out at this point. Yet even now it takes my breath away that Chávismo can contrive shenanigans like this, so absurd, so baroque. This highlights that the rule of law in Venezuela has totally collapsed. It’s a collapse so all-embracing Venezuela’s satirists are at loss: When it comes to writing storylines that capture government’s insanity, there’s simply no topping government itself.