Thursday, June 13, 2013

“Magnicidio” and the transfer of charisma

During an interview on Globovision, the Popular Power Minister of Interior, Justice, and Peace, Rodríguez Torres, made new denunciations that “sectors of the extreme right” have plans to assassinate President Maduro (“Magnicidio” is the word most often used by the Venezuelan government for these plots).

Rodríguez Torres linked the plot to kill Maduro with plans to bring paramilitaries into the country by the “extreme right”. He compared the situation to past cases in which “groups” had brought paramilitaries to assassinate Chávez: “in that opportunity they brought 150 [paramilitaries], in a single block and wearing uniforms, with the intention of bombing Aló Presidente, and to deploy them all over Caracas in order to create a great confusion and to kill President Chávez. Now they are acting with groups that come from the autodenfensas, that are important criminal gangs in Colombia, but with a different method, they now get into the country posing as citizens and try to merge in society, but they carry war guns, and their mission is always the same: destabilize Venezuelan politics and create violence.” 

Claims of “magnicidio” plans were regularly made by Chávez´s during his government. His illness and death have been attributed by Maduro to a cancer “inoculated” by his enemies. As can be seen in the chronology presented in past posts of this blog, the Maduro government has also presented a theory of an extensive ongoing plan to kill the President. The plot denunciations have included many actors at different times: Otto Reich, Roger Noriega, Álvaro Uribe, Armando Briquet, and Henrique Capriles as masterminds, and mercenaries from El Salvador or paramilitaries from Colombia as executioners.

The transfer of charisma from Chávez to his chosen successor has proven a challenge. Conspiracy theories that center on the figure of the leader serve the purpose of presenting Maduro as the true continuation of Chávez: he has inherited not only his powers, but also his sworn enemies. They also help create the perception among his followers that the Revolution is under constant threat. The danger must be conjured by rallying around the Leader with complete, uncritical loyalty. Critics are presented as accomplices of the conspiracy plots and therefore as non-loyal opposition. As Diosdado Cabello has argued: “there is no opposition in Venezuela, there is only a conspiracy.”

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