Jefferson Morley | February 11, 2020
How Conspiracy Theories Fuel Venezuela’s Crisis
The Caracas Chronicles is an independent news blog reporting from the Venezuelan capital, where government repression, economic contraction and U.S. sanctions have generated a miserable political impasse.
Enrique Bernardo Núñez notes how conspiracy theories tend to make the couuntry’s bad situation worse.
Conspiracy theories are kind of like tricky publicity: it’s not that they aren’t based on facts, it’s that they only pick certain facts and turn them into universal doings by adapting them to the expectations, fears and general resentment, offering “knowledge” within a chaotic environment, of what’s behind apparently inexplicable events.
They come both from the government of President Nicholas Maduro, and the opposition, led by Juan Guaido, which the Chronicle supports
Some government’s conspiracy theories depict Maduro’s pposition as tools of the the U.S. empire.
“The opposition’s leaders are financed by the government and that’s why they haven’t asked for a foreign military intervention; their goal is cohabitation and sharing power, not transition to another regime”; “Inflation has nothing to do with misguided measures, it’s rather induced by agents of an economic warfare unleashed by the empire”; “The wave of protests in the area isn’t caused by the people’s unrest in each country, it’s actually a well-organized conspiracy thought out from Venezuela and the Foro de São Paulo”; “Human rights NGOs aren’t really defending those rights, they’re agencies paid by foreign powers to conspire against the government.”
The opposition’s conspiracy theories depict the groups that oppose foreign intervention and seek a negotiate a settlement as dupes of the government.
There’s also “whoever rallies for dialogue, negotiation or (God forbid!) elections, isn’t a true political figure; they’re agents paid by the government to earn more time and prevent the dreamed final and purifying war, which will end not only with the government, but with the entire Venezuelan political group.” Or like a Venezuelan influencer, famous for his conspiracy theories, stated: “Only ‘freedom lovers’, that is, liberals, will remain.”
While pro-government Chavismo theories are more prevalent, Núñez says, the opposition’s conspiracy theories are also debilitating. They tend to undermine to the democratic aspirations of the moderate opposition and encourage extremist positions.
They not only undermine the opposition leadership, they also deny any political strategy that doesn’t include the unlikely event of a foreign intervention. They even go further, openly inviting potential voters to voluntarily demobilize, in other words, to abstain from taking part in any electoral event before a complete political change happens thanks to a generous foreign liberating hand, called to completely purify Venezuelan politics in a necessarily violent operation that’ll cleanse the country from the “narco-tyranny” and its corrupt live-in opposition. It’s no coincidence either that this discourse justifies, the same way chavismo’s discourse does, the use of certain non-democratic, violent tools to achieve the greater good.