Yesterday, February 28, during the Peace Conference convened by President Maduro in Miraflores Palace, the General Attorney Luisa Ortega Díaz informed that “the number of deceased due to fascist violence has risen to 17.” On February 27, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua, declared in Brazil that “the violent [protest] groups have a racist character and have been trained under the guidance of neo-Nazis and neo-fascists, financed by United States institutions, such as the NED [National Endowment for Democracy] and USAID among others.” President Maduro has often referred to protestors and to the opposition in general, as a “fascist group.”
Public state media also uses the word “fascismo” to describe the Venezuelan opposition groups, sometimes as quotes from government official, but often as a definitional category on its own right: The web page of the Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias for example, carries a link on its front page under the title “Fascismo,” illustrated with a swastika and a fist. The link takes the reader to series of articles: most prominent is an piece reporting Jose Vicente Rangel´s declarations, claiming the opposition used “fascist tactics” during the violent events which followed the April 15 Presidential Elections. Rangel also explains that “Venezuela lived under the most genuine fascism between 1958 and 1998.”
But the AVN link also features historical pieces that interpret fascism as “the last ditch of capitalism”. In an interview, writer Luis Brito García explains that fascism emerged from the need to “counter bolshevism,” and that it is defined by “a collusion of the power of the State and big financial capital. (…) It is the big financial capital allied to the power of the State, and when they don’t have that power, they will try to achieve it.”
A video “The Masks of Fascism” explains the relation between “big capital” and fascism. The caption by AVN summarizes the content of the video: “Contemporary historical events have demonstrated that big capital is an accomplice of fascism, and therefore, rightist politics are potentially fascist when their interests are put in jeopardy and they are unable to stop changes to the political system, changes that diminish their privileges but that redeem the great majority of the population.”
These historical interpretations of the origins of fascism are at the core of what government officials in Venezuela understand by the term.
Sometimes fascismo is used by the government to characterize only some of the most radical opposition leaders, but most often it is deployed as a general category which includes all of the opposition to the chavista political project, be it opposition from the left or the right of the political spectrum. As such, in Venezuelan political rhetoric, fascismo has become a trivial term of abuse that precludes considering the opposition as a political adversary and portrays it as a dehumanized evil enemy.