Earlier this month president Nicolas Maduro created a security body, the CESSPA, to coordinate information from intelligence organisations. Opposition spokespeople and private media have categorised the new body as “Castro-esque”, “dictatorial”, and “limiting free speech”.
The CESSPAreported on the CESPPA as “cold war logic”. The IPS quoted Rocio San Miguel, director of the organisation Control Ciudadano as saying the CESPPA aims to “turn some citizens into vigilantes and informers…all bodies and people will be obliged to supply information that CESPPA requires on practically anything”.
The IPS did not cite any examples of such governmental actions over the last 14 years to sustain the quote, and did not mention that Rocio San Miguel is a weekly columnist for the right wing Venezuelan newspaper Tal Cual.
In July this year the minister for justice and internal affairs, Miguel Torres, alleged that San Miguel is an “operator with the CIA in Venezuela, I can prove it”.
IPS also quoted opposition front Alliance for Freedom of Expression as calling for the “immediate repeal of the decree…because it runs counter to constitutional guarantees of the right to information and the prohibition of censorship”. On its website, the Alliance describes its aim as “restoring the democratic system” in Venezuela.
IPS then quotes Carlos Correa, coordinator of Espacio Publico (Public Space), who criticised the idea of an “internal enemy” and assumed that “any Venezuelan critical of the government …would fall under that label”.
According to lawyer Eva Golinger, referring to a 2008 document, Espacio Publico is one of the organisations which distributes US state department funds to certain Venezuelan journalists and media.
The CESPPA replaces the CESNA (Centre of Situational Study of the Nation), created by late President Hugo Chavez in 2010 to fulfil a very similar purpose. The CESNA was for “compiling, processing and analysing” information about “aspects of national interest”. At the time of its creation, the opposition made similar accusations. Human Rights Watch claimed that the CESNA gave Chavez powers to “control public debate”. There is little evidence that that happened.
The new CESPPA comes at a time when Maduro has accused the opposition of orchestrating an “economic war”, and after he expelled three US diplomats on 30 September for their “conspiracy with the opposition”.