Archive for July 3rd, 2005

Some thoughts on Chavez’s “Magnicidios”

July 3, 2005

When I was young, I was fascinated by the
story of “Pedro y  el Lobo” (Peter’s Crying Wolf). I
found it was a terrible story, and yet, with the passing of time, I
have been
able to learn from it and to wisely put in practice the lesson
portrayed in the
story.Unfortunately, the Venezuelan President does not seem to have
learned
that lesson at all. Since he got into power, Chavez has systematically
stated that he is about to be killed, that there are people outside and
inside Venezuela plotting to take his life. He has even introduced a
very elegant term
to indicate the event of his assassination. He has called it a
“Magnicidio”.

My first
thought is on the term itself and why it is used.

I must admit with a bit of shame
that I did not quite know the meaning of the word “Magnicidio” until Chavez started using it. It was only then that I took the time to check the dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy to
get the precise meaning of the term. Here is what I found:

magnicidio.
(Del lat. magnus, grande, y -cidio).
1. m. Muerte violenta dada a persona muy importante por su cargo o poder.

According
to this definition “magnicidio” means the “violent death given
to a very important person due to his/her position or
power”.The term is vague, to say the
least. How does one define “a very
important person due to his position or power”? Secondly, I was puzzled
that the term
had not been widely used before in the Venezuelan Press to designate
the
assassination of someone important. I do not recall having read or
heard that term for the original news of the assassinations of John
(1963) and Robert (1968) Kennedy, Martin Luther King
(1968) ,Anwar El Sadat (1981), Indira Ghandi (1984), Olof Palme (1986),
Rajiv
Ghandi (1991), Yitzhak Rabin (1995) or Anna Lindh (2003), to mention
just a
few. I searched the archives of Venezuelan newspapers to know for sure
if the
killings of
those political figures were just tagged as “assassinations” by the
Venezuelan Press or if the word “magnicidio” was employed at the time.

Unfortunately, the on-line
archives do not go that further back. I was only able to get the original on-line news of the Anna
Lindh assassination
. As you can see, there is no mentioning
of the word “Magnicidio” referring to her assassination. Of course, Chavistas may
argue that Anna Lindh was just the Swedish Foreign minister and had been only President of the
European Union
and candidate to succeed the Swedish Prime Minister…maybe she was not
important enough, not compared to Chavez, of
course…

So, if you have access to the original Venezuelan newspapers on the assassinations of any of
the above mentioned leaders, please let me know. I would really like to know the
exact term that was used when the news of those assassinations were printed.

My guess is that it was the
Chavistas themselves that dusted and tagged the old term and that the Venezuelan Press followed, falling
into their trap. According to the Chavistas, Chavez should not be considered
like your everyday leader. They have carefully been crafting an image of
Chavez that is closer to that of a Religious figure than a modern politician (see
The Eternal Chavez”, that refers to
this
article
of William Izarra, who is one of the
leading ideologists of the Chavista movement). Thus,
it is
not surprising that an assassination of Chavez should be more than a
normal political assassination. Then, the tagged terminology of
“Magnicidio”, carefully repeated over and over in Alo Presidente and
the other
official media outlets, has become a current term, specifically used to
designate the
assassination of a supreme leader: Chavez.

My second
thought refers to the number of times an eventual Magnicidio have been in the
news.

I was about to initiate a
research on that point when I found this
article
by Elizabeth Fuentes. Luckily she had already carried
out the facts digging work. According to her article, the chronology and accounting
of the magnicidio story can be summarized as
follows:

1998. – The magnicidio was denounced eight
times.

1999. – There were six instances of
magnicidio callings.

2000. – The possibility of a magnicidio was
announced eight times again.

2001. – Five times was a magnicidio plot
denounced.

2002. – Only one case is
reported.

2003. – At least two cases were
announced.

2004. – This year too, at least two cases of
magnicidio were reported.

Ms. Fuentes stops her research
in 2004, but there have been already several reports of Magnicidio in 2005. I did a quick search on
El Universal archives
a
few days ago and, starting on
January
1st 2005, there had been 145
articles about a Chavez magnicidio! The latest, are the suspension of
the June 24 Independence parade due
to a supposed
complot to kill the president
(see also here)
and the
amazing declarations of Fiscal Isaias Rodriguez indicating that Danilo
Anderson’s murder was nothing
more than a “trial” for the magnicidio (see here
and my comments here).

The question is why? Why does
Chavez need to constantly get out the news about yet another plot for his
assassination?

My feeling is, as usual, that
this is a strategy to divert the attention of the Venezuelan people. The government uses the
Magnicidio the same way it was believed that previous governments used some urban
legends like the UFO arrivals and the extra-terrestrials announcing of the opening
of the
AvilaMountain.
At that time, some people thought that those fantastic news were
circulated on purpose to divert
public opinion from political scandals or harsh economic conditions. In
previous governments those urban legends were heard once in a while,
whereas in the current government, the
Chavez magnicidio stories are constantly brought up like breaking news
by government
officials.

Of course, regardless of the
magic realism that Venezuelans are used to live, there has never been, in the history of
Venezuela,
such a circus-like political climate. Simply put it, Chavez is a
terrible
ruler, and he runs an extremely inefficient government, but he is a
great entertainer and he has a lot of money. He has the two ingredients used
by the Roman Emperors to remain
popular:

“Panem et
circenses”.

My last thought is on Chavez handling of the
news.


Regardless of whether the
Magnicidio attempts are real or not, Chavez handling of the news on that issue has been extremely irresponsible. A real leader, a true statesman puts the security of the state and of the people he is
governing before anything else. A leader is someone that would prevent a panic situation, or a situation that can
lead to bloodshed or civil war.

Well, Chavez has done exactly the opposite. He
has systematically warned people in a very public way that he might be
killed soon.Moreover, he has incited the Venezuelan people to get out in the
streets in the event of his death. His behavior has
been so irresponsible that a few weeks ago Chavez
was
not seen in public for a whole weekend, which is very unusual. The
rumors started and there was already a group of angry Venezuelans
outside the Presidential Palace asking to see the President (see here).

This, of course, is the same
good old Chavez’s shameful and irresponsible strategy of putting Venezuelans against Venezuelans
(see
here
). It seems that he is even determined that his legacy of hatred and
division persists after he is gone.

I pray that nothing happens to
him; I do not even want to imagine the terrible situation if it were
otherwise.

Jorge Arena.

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