Lunes, 17 de Junio de 2019
Última actualización: 19:38 CEST

The crisis in Venezuela, according to Cuba's official press

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro holds an image of Hugo Chávez on May 1, in Caracas. (BBC)

On Tuesday, May 23 journalist Irma Shelton Tase, of Cuban Television's daily news broadcast, spotlighted statements made by Carlos Aquino, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Venezuela. Commenting on the spread of social protests in his country, the official stated that "the solution to this escalation ... does not involve conciliation between the classes. Then he added: "As one of our slogans says, 'Peace is achieved by defeating the fascists, not reconciling with them.'"

In the remainder of her report, Irma Shelton had no qualms about calling imprisoned Venezuelan dissidents "terrorists," Hugo Chavez the "eternal commander," and demonstrations, "fascist." The linguistic overlap between the Venezuelan Communist official and the Cuban journalist should surprise no one.

In his book LTI: The Language of the Third Reich the German philologist Victor Klemperer argues that the language of Nazism is characterized by its poverty, and that Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was the work underpinning it. Klemperer, a Jew who survived the Holocaust by being married to an "Aryan" German, points out that it was with the rise to power of National Socialism that the group's language became that of the entire people; "That is to say, it took over every public and private sphere: politics, jurisprudence, economics, art, science, schools, sports, family, kindergartens and children's rooms."

A "common language" also calls for a gross transformation of reality. Those of us who are following with interest what is happening in Venezuela recently saw how on May 8 journalist Juana Carrasco, in an article published in Juventud Rebelde, confused an armored military vehicle with a police car, and misreported: "Violent protesters burn police car in Caracas."

But the journalistic "highlight" of these "Venezuelan days" came from journalist Alina Perera Robbio. For her efficacy, she was sent as a special envoy to that country, and her reports appear in both Granma and Rebel Youth.

With headlines like Bolivar's Prophecy Fulfilled and Venezuela Deals the Terrorists a Hard Blow, Perera Robbio both glorifies the chavista political class while criminalizing its opponents. These are key elements of a jargon that, as described by Klemperer, not only pervades every public and private sphere of a nation, but also manages to transcend national borders and unite similar political regimes.

In this environment impossible alliances are decreed and foreign elements are assimilated. In an interview a few days ago by Alina Perera Robbio of Roberto López Hernández, Cuba's Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, when addressing bilateral relations with Venezuela, the official described the links between Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez like those between a "father and son, of profound love." In this way he responded to questions in which the "special envoy" inquired about Hugo Chávez's personality with hard-hitting questions like: "He was a poet, philosopher, very sensitive. Did you have the chance to appreciate those facets of his?" And "Did you ever see him sad?"

Thanks to the tight and extensive control enforced by Cuba's official news editors, the name of Luisa Ortega, the chavista prosecutor who actually condemned Nicolas Maduro's rupture of the constitutional order, will remain unknown. As will the nature of this constitutional violation, through with which the Venezuelan president seeks to impose a constitution amenable to his authoritarian tendencies. Our official journalists fail to mention that the current situation was preceded and spawned by elections in which 64% of the South American country's people voted in favor of the Mesa de Unidad Democrática, in December of 2015, ushering into the legislative branch a surprising majority of members of this political group.

But this "common language" is nothing without persistent omissions. To be assimilated in the simple way it aspires to be, the "common language" requires the omission of all elements that might prompt reflection, critical judgment or intelligence. "Reality" needs to appear before its consumers in the clearest and simplest way possible.