Friday, September 13, 2013

LatinPulse podcast on Venezuela

Prof. Rick Rockwell of American University interviewed me for the last of a series of podcasts on the Venezuelan political landscape. My part is from minute 3 on. Unfortunately the sound did not come out too good (it seems that my computer only has a mono microphone.) The program also includes a very interesting interview with Prof. George Ciccariello-Maher on the role of chavistas grassroots movements and how they relate to Maduro.

Just to clarify the point I sort of stumbled upon in the interview: 

I think conspiracy theories are not working all that well for Maduro as political tools because he does not have the charisma to back them up and make them believable. Evidence for this was Maduro’s campaign leading up to the April 14 election, which also relied heavily on conspiracy theorizing and which he won by a surprisingly small margin (of course, the use of conspiracy rhetoric during the campaign is probably not the main explanation for this, I only argue that it did not add anything positive to Maduro’s campaign.) Also, opinion poll numbers seem to reflect that most Venezuelan’s do not believe that saboteurs are to blame for electric power cuts (it will be interesting to compare with polls taken after the September 3 blackout.)

In a previous post I also argued that perhaps conspiracy theories are not a good idea because they can backfire if people start perceiving the government as incompetent to deal with “wreckers and saboteurs.” Especially if the government has repeatedly claimed that it has securely militarized power plants and oil refinery, and that it is a “strong” government that is decisively dealing with the conspirators. 

The government is constructing an image of opposition leaders as super-powerful, omnipresent conspirators, capable of complex coordinated operations to wreck the electric and oil industries, hoard products and disrupt goods distribution, “create” inflation, devaluate the currency, and “inoculate” cancer on political leaders. 

My point is that, even in the case of believing all those allegations, these conspirators are starting to look much more competent than the government.

No comments:

Post a Comment