“Venezuela 2007 is Chile 1973”

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“How will the constitutional reform affect you? Click here” The link is dead, at least in my browser. Trying Opera.

U.S. Companies Behind Anti-Reform Propaganda in Venezuela: Veneanalysis observes

… an anonymous two-page spread in the country’s largest circulation newspaper, Últimas Noticias, which claimed about the Constitutional Reform: “If you are a Mother, YOU LOSE! Because you will lose your house, your family and your children (children will belong to the state).”

What is fascinating about this claim is not just its absurdity — you get used to such nonsense if you hang out in this neighborhood long enough — but fact that it seems to come from the exact same psychological operations playbook used to topple Salvador Allende in the 1970s.


Many years later, with the declassification of secret CIA documents, it was clearly proved that the press campaign had been orchestrated and financed by the CIA. That included articles and reports written by CIA agents and planted in prestigious newspapers, allegedly independent and netural, such as El Mercurio. And “facts” exploited heavily by the press at the time, such as report that children would be kidnapped and be sent to Russia, and the piles of money stolen by Allende, had been manufactured in the offices of the CIA.

You would hope that the spy business would have progressed some in the meantime rather than just recycling the same old tired schtick. The “ship your babies to Russia” campaign actually failed at the time, as I recall.

Unable to thwart support for Allende with a good media ratfucking, they had to resort to bombing the presidential palace, as well as rounding up people in the Santiago soccer stadium and shooting them.

But of course, all of this is to suppose that such an ad actually appeared.

Not to seem mistrustful or anything, but David “Fear and Misinformation Abound” Sasaki-style FUD is in the air. Does anyone have a copy of the ad?

(I did finally find what is at least an ad, clearly labeled as a product of the CIEC, on its Web site.) See


The illegal ad, which was caught and suspended by the Venezuelan National Electoral Council (CNE) after a few days in the press, has received relatively high-profile attention in the Venezuelan press, and even Chavez joked about it last Friday on the nightly pro-Chavez talk show, La Hojilla. What appears to have gone completely ignored, however, is the fact that the ad itself was placed by an organization which has at its core, dozens of subsidiaries of the largest US corporations working in Venezuela.

Attention from what organs of the Venezuelan press?

The Veneanalysis article opens quoting a woman who repeats some of the talking points in the ad, to show that it is having an affect.

Which is a bit of a “one-sparrow spring,” and looks a bit like what in Brazil they call a personagem gambit: Find a person who fits the profile of your thesis and interview them to illustrate the reality of the trend you assert is real.

(On the other hand, I have heard well-educated people here in Brazil repeating demonstrable gabbling nonsense — “Lula embezzled billions!” — printed by Veja magazine myself.)

It was amazing to see, for example, during the last presidential elections in Peru, how many of the “man on the streets” interviews on the choice between Garcia and his leading opponent, Humala, said exactly the same thing.

“This is a choice between the lesser of two evils.”

Across every English-language news agency that I looked at (the one exception was the BBC, I recall), and in all the major international paper, people ostensibly chosen at random from all walks of life were all quoted as saying pretty much exactly the same thing: “This is a choice between the lesser of two evils.”

Many using almost exactly those words.

The scare tactic against Venezuelan mothers isn’t the only piece of misinformation in the anonymous advertisement. Under the title, “Who wins and who loses,” it goes on to tell readers that under the new reform, they will lose their right to religion; that 9.5 million people will lose their job; that small, large or cooperative businesspeople will lose their “store, home, business, taxi or cooperative”; that urban, rural and mountain militias are going to replace the National Armed Forces; that students will lose their right to decide what they want to study; that campesinos are going to lose out because they won’t be owners of their own land; and that the value of the Venezuelan currency, the Bolivar, is going to drop along with the value of Venezuelan homes, cars, farm lands (finca), and educational studies.

I would like to see the ad.

Comments in the ad refer to specific reformed articles in the Constitution, as if providing a reference for readers to verify the claim. Of course, briefly examining the article in reference verifies that each claim is either completely false, or a ridiculous exaggeration and manipulation of the reform. Article 112, for instance, which the advertisement says will take Venezuelan children from their families, in actuality discusses economic development and production.

The ad was reportedly placed anonymously:

Although published as an anonymous article, Lucena (of the elections commission) announced that according to the official tax number (RIF) published with the article, the advertisement was actually placed by the Cámara de Industriales del estado Carabobo (The Carabobo State Chamber of Industry).

I wonder if they have responded to that accusation?

On the 25th, the CNE announced that

de forma reincidente, la Cámara de Industriales del estado Carabobo publicó en Quinto Día avisos que fueron suspendidos con medidas cautelares por el ente comicial.

The Carabobo State Chamber of Industry had once again published, in Quinto Dia, advertisements that had been banned by order of the electoral commission.

Quinto Dia today:

El trabajo de investigación de Quinto Día revela cómo y cuándo es posible un fraude, y concluye que el secreto del voto está garantizado. La clave contra posibles trampas está en los testigos, que deben cuidar la mesa hasta el final. Por otra parte, una encuesta a boca de Metro, realizada por periodistas de Televen en veinte estaciones, indica que el 80 por ciento de los 320 encuestados manifestó su intención de votar en el referendo

“Our investigations reveal how and when election fraud is possible, and concludes that the secrecy of the vote is secure. The key to avoiding possible fraud is the presence of witnesses, who should remain at the voting station until the end. Meanwhile, a survey taken at 20 subway stations by Televen journalists, 80% of 320 persons surveyed said they would vote NO.”

There is a link on the CIEC Web site to a special section titled “What will the Constitutional reforms mean for you?” but I am having trouble clicking through to it. Bad Flash-driven design.

Wait, here I am finding a Powerpoint presentation by an Ernesto Vogeler (Proagro) that seems to deal with similar topics.

Processing …

Writes Vogeler

Venezuela necesita ser un país de propietarios y no un país de inquilinos de las tierras del Estado. Un país de los hombres y mujeres que ven en Venezuela el lugar donde quieren construir su futuro en libertad, un país de emprendedores, un país de motores sociales y económicos que permitan resolver los problemas de la pobreza.

Venezuela needs to be a nation of landowners, not a nation of tenants on State-owned land. A nation of men and women who see in Venezuela a place where they can build their future in freedom, a nation of entrepreneurs, a national of social and economic engines that will bring about a solution to the problems of poverty.

Not quite the gabbling festival of factoids cited. More along the lines of run-of-the-mill glittering generalities. The principal area of concern seems to be Article 99, on private property rights, it says. An interesting presentation, actually. Most of it showed up in the ad later produced by the organization.

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“Postive trends” in Hugoland. Consumer spending and international reserves. Source:
Ernesto Vogeler, Cámara de Industriales del estado Carabobo, undated presentation on the Venezuelan constitutional referendum.

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“The positive”: Per capita GDP growth. Vogeler, ibid.

Still searching …

Still looking for the announcement explaining the ruling on the ad in question, but there is also this, from the CNE (the elections commission):

Los rectores del Consejo Nacional Electoral aprobaron este miércoles prohibir la difusión de los micros realizados por el Ministerio de Información y Comunicaciones (Minci) y los micros de la organización Sinergia, así como abrir una averiguación administrativa a la Conferencia Episcopal, por violentar la normativa que rige el Referendo de la Reforma Constitucional.

The CNE approved a ban on the airing of spots produced by the Ministry of Information and Communications (Minci) and the spots produced by the Sinergia organization, and agreed to open an investigation into the Conference of Bishops for violating the rules governing the referendum.

Los micros de Sinergia, que se transmiten por Globovisión, también fueron prohibidos, porque dicha organización no forman parte de ninguno de los bloques participantes y porque violentan la normativa.

The spots by Sinergia, aired on Globovision, were also banned, because this organization is not part of any of the blocs of participants and because the spots violate the rules.

Sinergia posted the following response to the ruling:

Esta asociación de organizaciones de la sociedad civil venezolana reitera que, en el marco de la presente campaña previa al referendo en el que se rechazará o se aprobará la propuesta de reforma constitucional, SINERGIA no forma parte del Bloque del SI ni del NO, ni llama a votar por ninguna de esas opciones. Nuestra vocación y nuestro rol, como red de organizaciones de la sociedad civil, se orienta a promover el conocimiento del proyecto de reforma constitucional y a estimular el debate respetuoso de su contenido.

This association of Venezuelan civil-society organizations reiterates that in the context of the current referendum … it is not part of either the YES or NO bloc, and does not call for a vote on either of these options. Our vocation and our role … is to promote knowledge of the proposed constitution and stimulate debate over its contents.

2) En ese sentido SINERGIA produjo un material impreso titulado “¿Pa’ donde vas Venezuela?”, en el que varios personajes de nuestros barrios (hombres y mujeres, jóvenes y adultos, partidarios del Si y del No, independientes e indecisos) conversan sobre distintos aspectos del proyecto, concluyendo en la necesidad de incrementar la participación ciudadana. Este material fue distribuido en todo el país y ejemplares del mismo fueron remitidos a la Asamblea Nacional y la Defensoría del Pueblo, entre muchos otros organismos del Estado que tienen entre sus atribuciones estimular la participación ciudadana en los asuntos públicos. También tuvo una versión audiovisual, la cual fue objeto de la “prohibición” anunciada la noche del pasado miércoles 28-11-2007 por la ciudadana presidenta del máximo organismo comicial.

With this in mind, Sinergia produced a print article titled “Where ya goin’, Venezuela?”, in which various people from our neighborhoods (men and women, children and adults, YES and NO proponents, independents and undecideds) talk about various aspects of the project. This article was distributed throughout the country and copies were sent tothe National Assembly and the [state attorney’s office], as well as other state agencies who have as part of their functions to stimulate citizen participation in public affairs. We also made an audiovisual version that was the subject of the “prohibition” announced on November 28 by the president of the elections commission.

3) Al no ser Sinergia una organización político-partidista, y no tener el material producido intención proselitista ni propagandística, rechazamos enfáticamente que el organismo electoral “prohiba” ilegalmente la difusión de nuestra opinión. El artículo 57 de la Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela establece que “toda persona tiene derecho a expresar libremente sus pensamientos, ideas u opiniones” usando para ello “cualquier medio de comunicación y difusión, sin que pueda establecerse censura”. El articulo 58 de nuestra Carta Magna también establece que “toda persona tiene derecho a la información oportuna, veraz e imparcial, sin censura”. Ambas disposiciones constitucionales han sido violentadas por la decisión del CNE anunciada por su presidenta. Lamentablemente, ese organismo confundió su condición de árbitro electoral con la de censor de la sociedad.

Since Sinergia is not a political-partisan organization, and since the material produced had no intent to propagandize or proselytize, we emphatically reject the CNE’s illegally “prohibiting” our airing of our opinion. Article 57 of the Constitution establishes the right to freedom of expression … and Article 58 established the right to timely, true and impartial information, without censorship.” …

Not sure what the violation of the rules supposedly was.

Let me check on that. Quite a few Latin American nations have election laws designed to outlaw Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (or “John McCain is clinically insane,” to be nonpartisan about it) campaigns — in principle.

The CNE rules on advertising and publicity are published here.

Anonymous advertising is forbidden (Chapter II, Article 7, Clause 7).

Only registered organizations can advertise. In order to register, you must … Aw, hell, learn Spanish and read it yourself.

Did CIEC produce an anonymous ad claiming that Red Hugo wants to eat your babies? I have no idea at this point. Some election commissions have “jurisprudence” sections where they set forth the facts involved in the ruling, but I cannot find that on the CNE site.

Somebody send me a copy, if you have one.

In Mexico last year, COPARMEX allegedly played a similar role, using a network of NGOs to back a TV ad blitz defending the competence of the elections commission and the validity of the results announced in the wake of the contested July 2 elections.


The elections commissions is supposed to monitor and regulate such political TV and radio spots — indeed, it hired Brazil’s IBOPE to help it do that. The project reportedly failed, though you did not read a single line about it in the Brazilian press.


The Brazilian consortium hired to produce a quick count for the Ecuadoran elections last year — the same company that produces Brazil’s quick count — failed to deliver said count. Executives fled the country ahead of a fraud probe. See

As in many Latin American nations, beans are a staple of the traditional Brazilian diet.

(Mixed with rice and mandioca, they provide very good basic nutrition, they say. My wife is into all that natureba stuff. )

It also has a proud folkloric tradition of horse-trading, which involves rapid mental math regarding the true value of horseflesh.

So it is kind of amazing, in a way, when its most advanced beancounters cannot seem to credibly count the beans. Theory: Monopolies really do make you less competitive. The Harlem Globetrotters always beat the Washington Generals because the games were rigged, you know.


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