Translating López

By Alberto Barrera Tyszka

El Nacional – June 8, 2014

In a magnificent chronicle, published this week in this newspaper, Hernán Lugo-Galicia states that “a 120-page report, prepared by a former official Minci (Ministry of the Popular Power for the Communication) expert in semiotics, is the key to the process followed in court against Leopoldo López”. On February 19, a few days after the events, the General Attorney Luisa Ortega Diaz said that they would investigate the “subliminal messages” to catch the “masterminds” of the protests that, of course were, no longer protests but crimes.

The transit from justice to interpretation is a symptom of the institutional collapse that we are going through. To find the truth it is not necessary to inquire the facts and present evidence; you only need to know how to interpret what the suspect said, what he meant, what he actually said as subtext, what was not said but is saying otherwise … Given the lack of factual proof, in the absence of decisive evidence, we turn to a peculiar interpretation so eventually his own words accuse him. To convict Lopez, Lopez has to be translated.

It is a fatal precedent, a step forward in the authoritarian government’s project. Chavez regime has been building a new kind of dictatorship, a disciplined society, governed by mutual surveillance and fear. It is a form of taking self-censorship into the intimacy. Be careful with what you say. It can be interpreted in any way. Careful. You do not even control your own language.

Seen from any distance, it is a delusional process. At some point in some future, a future Inés Quintero will investigate the ruins of these days and be amazed. A self-appointed Political High Command of a self-proclaimed revolution sits in front of a microphone and alleges an attempted Presidential assassination and coup d’état. The evidence is, once more, an exercise of interpretation of language. Loose e-mails with fragments highlighted in yellow, transformed those in power into a committee of literary analysis. But they do not present any factual sentence, a concrete plan, any reference to the location of the headquarters, the name of a general or a commander. In some cases, frankly, it is rather a typical exchange between two citizens of a country that is an expert at talking bullshit.

But the Political High Command suddenly becomes an alumnae club of the Ursuline nuns and shows the scandal of the verb “annihilate”. They wave the word in the air like a murder weapon. The issue would not be so paradoxical if Chavez´s regime was not well known precisely by the use of a belligerent and excessive language, in a permanent state of threat. It would not hurt to prepare for the government its own anthology of hazardous verbs, phrases worthy of any suspicion. In February 2012, not to go too far, the then President Chavez on national television said he would “crush” Henrique Capriles. Where was the prosecutor that day?

We could also help “justice” in its hunt for “subliminal messages”. I give as an example one that continues to amaze me: when Ernesto Villegas, after his electoral defeat, was appointed Minister for Transforming Caracas, Maduro threw a huge subliminal slap in the face to all of Caracas´ citizens. Beyond the conscious threshold he tells us: Your votes matter a damn to me. I am Democracy.

The industry of the official truth is back on track. Without showing strong evidence, from one day to the next they talk as if they had proven over and over again all accusations. They transform the truth into a sensitive issue that is unrelated to rationality. No matter what the opposition says. The government reiterates that, in essence, the opposition is saying something else. Even before you talk, the power has already translated your message.


Original Source:  Alberto Barrera Tyszka,  “Traduciendo a López” . El Nacional. Junio 8, 2014.

Publishing rights granted to #infoVnzla by Alberto Barrera Tyszka