Well it´s been– it´s very interesting to see what new technologies are doing to our ways of communicating. For example, look at Twitter. Twitter can be seen from different angles. On one angle, it´s the best source of gossip I´ve ever seen in my life. And people use Twitter for gossiping in an incredible fashion. And it amazes me how much time can– people can spend in something as useless, as we´ll say, as gossiping.
But it that gossiping helped form a very substantial community of Tweeters and of or Tweeting people. I don´t know how to call them. And those Tweeting people have a very effective mean of communicating themselves, letting them know I mean things providing information.
It can range from traffic to police abuses to the disappearance of someone to the need for some– from some prescription. So it plays an important role. I mean it costs nothing because most people have access to Twitter in Venezuela. And, as I said, there is a very substantial community.
On the bad side, of course, it gives the government the opportunity to know what people are thinking. But to follow hundreds of thousands of people requires a very substantial and intelligent police force. And I think the government, no matter how clever the Cubans are at policing a society, they cannot follow hundreds of thousands of people and interpret what they mean, what they are saying.
They know that some people have substantial following. 100,000 followers, 200,000 followers, which are substantial numbers in Venezuela. But then you have to read all those messages to interpret them. I mean that´s not easy.
And that what why the police work in Venezuela is so messy. They are spending look at the typical Venezuelan bureaucrat. He has to spend over three and a half hours a day listening to Chavez. I mean Chavez talks on a week, on a regular week, he talks more than 40 hours. So that takes all your– to– your– your laboring time.
And on top of that you have to follow the Twitter of your position to know what they are thinking and what they are planning or what they are willing to do. But at the same time you have to follow Chavez´ Twitter as well, because that´s one of the means he uses to give instructions. Because everything in Venezuela has to be decided by Chavez. Not the minister. Not an ambassador. Not a representative on Congress. Nobody dares to make a decision according to his own judgment. He has to know what Chavez thinks about that.
So if the minister has to buy a new suit, he will look into Twitter or who– he will watch television to see what kind of suit Chavez is wearing. And he gets confused, because it– when he´s talking publicly he will always be wearing a red shirt with a huge bulletproof vest.
But if he´s meeting the President of Colombia, then he wears a suit. A Saville row kind of suit. And with a very fashionable tie and shirt. And a huge watch. And so they are confused about little things as how to dress. Imagine when they have to make a decision on how to tackle production or how to tackle new investments or how to decide policy or education or health or things more complicated that require more time to study. So the problem with the Venezuela bureaucracy is that it has doubled over the last 10 years. But people are spending more and more time listening to gossip or listening to the Chavez parades.
Marcel Granier is the chief executive officer of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV). Trained as a lawyer, he began working at RCTV in the 1970s and worked his way up through the ranks to Director General of the station. The station’s editorial policies supported democratic governance and criticized efforts by President Hugo Chavez to consolidate power and eliminate governmental checks and balances.
In 2007, the Chavez government imposed a requirement that RCTV reapply for its broadcast license then denied the application. RCTV operated successfully as a cable station until the government frightened away its advertisers. Granier continues to live in Venezuela and to speak out for democracy and human rights.
Venezuela is a South American country of 28.5 million people with a history of multiparty constitutional democracy. President Nicolas Maduro took office after Hugo Chavez succumbed to cancer in 2013.
During the 1998-2013 presidency of Colonel Hugo Chavez, a series of constitutional and legal changes were implemented that make it far more difficult for citizens to change their government. The Chavez government systematically used public resources to secure its power, closed down independent news media, and used legal and extralegal means to harass and intimidate its critics.
Soon after his first election, Chavez called for a new constitution that would give expanded powers to the president and replace Venezuela’s bicameral Congress with a unicameral national assembly. The new constitution was approved by referendum in 1999. Chavez acquired substantial control of the military, the judiciary, the electoral commission, and the news media. The government closed Radio Caracas Television Internacional (RCTV Internacional), the country’s largest television network, and forced into exile the president of Globovision, the other major opposition-aligned network.
The Chavez government’s increasingly repressive methods generated strong public opposition, including a series of public protests by students, workers, and others who were not previously aligned with the political opposition. In the 2010 National Assembly elections, opposition parties received the majority of the votes, but under the new electoral rules the government took a substantial majority of the seats in the Assembly.
Venezuela’s vast oil resources allowed Chavez to implement policies that steered the country towards a socialist economy. The country’s oil wealth funded a major expansion of government social programs, much to the approval of government supporters in the lower class. Oil became the foundation of Venezuela’s relationship with Cuba, which has strengthened substantially over the last few decades due to shared ideology and financial and security interdependence. Venezuela has replaced the Soviet Union as Cuba’s major benefactor, financially supporting the Castro regime. Cuba in turn has supported the transformation and strengthening of the Venezuelan military. In 2004, the two nations founded the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), a group of socialist and social democratic nations working toward economic integration. ALBA and its member nations often champion anti-American policies and sentiments. This alliance has led to close ties between Venezuela and nations such as Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia.
Immediately after Chavez’s passing, Vice President Maduro assumed the role of interim President. He then went on to narrowly defeat an opposition candidate by a 1.5 percent margin in the April 2013 presidential elections. Maduro has pledged to complete Chavez’s socialist transformation of Venezuela.
Recently, Venezuela has struggled with a rising crime and homicide rate, blamed by some on a recent economic downturn, the availability of arms, and the weak judicial system. However, Chavez and Maduro both have linked this increase in crime to the media’s portrayal of both fictional and real violence and have continued to influence what programming and content is available. Both leaders have expanded the security forces within the country, calling on police, militias, and the military to fight crime.
In Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report, Venezuela earned “partly free” status, with an overall rating of 5. A rating of 1 represents the most free and 7 represents the least free.See all Venezuela videos