Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Conspiracy theories fatigue

(If you have been following this blog, you are probably suffering from conspiracy theories fatigue by now. It seems that some Venezuelans are also exhausted.) 

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles declared recently that this year the Venezuelan government has denounced 11 conspiracies, including 4 magnicidios, or plots to kill the president. 

In an article published yesterday in Últimas Noticias, reporter Aimar Fernádez argues that in the last 14 years the government has mentioned a magnicidio plots at least 63 times. For 12 of those 63 claims, the Venezuelan government directly named and arrested 12 suspects, which were later released for lack of evidence. A group of 153 “paramilitaries” were also captured in the famous “paracachitos” incident in El Hatillo, near Caracas, in 2004. All 153 suspects later received a presidential pardon and were deported to Colombia. 

Counting magnicidio conspiracy claims by the government is very tricky. Most “government announcements” are in reality repetitions by different officials of the same on-going conspiracy theory and not about different plots. Chávez used to be the first one to announce magnicidio plots against him in his weekly Aló Presidente TV show, and then government officials would add details during following week. Now it seems that José Vicente Rangel is the first to announce the latest plot, and Maduro, Cabello, and Rodriguez Torres progressively fill in the details in the following days. 

Even if most of the announcements refer to the same plot, the sheer number of magnicidio claims, not counting the ones about economic/electric/oil industry sabotages, perhaps explains the conspiracy theories fatigue some political analysts have been recently commenting on. 

Nicmer Evans, an analyst close to the government, has argued that “With the issue of the magnicidio we are like in the wolf fable, ‘here comes the wolf!’ and when the wolf finally comes nobody will notice it because they warned too many times that it was going to come.” 

Writer Alberto Barrera Tyszka, in his opinion column for El Nacional, argues that the constant magnicidio announcements, with promises to later show evidence that is never made public, is a mistake: “There is a miscalculation in the government’s discourse. They always multiply their announcements. Their grandiloquence ruins the denunciations. They scream as if Bruce Willis had just been found, armed up to his teeth, (…) hiding in a sewer a few meters from the Miraflores Palace. (…) Without showing any evidence, they accuse the local political parties, then they move on to name Roger Noriega, Posada Carriles, and then Álvaro Uribe, to finish by dragging Obama into the plot and pointing to a plan to invade Syria and commit a magnicidio in Venezuela, at the same time.” 

Even President Maduro has expressed his concern over the “disrespectful” attitude that the Venezuelan opposition has shown by ridiculing the magnicidio claims. For Maduro such behavior, in the face of such serious denunciations, is “highly suspicious.”  

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