In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
— George Orwell
EspañolVenezuelan President Nicolás Maduro held a press conference on Monday, August 24, exclusively for foreign journalists. Just like his predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez, Maduro avoids the local press, claiming they don’t meet with “putschists” or “conspirators,” even though both have said the same thing about foreign reporters.
Maduro went on to explain the reasons behind the deportation of over 1,000 Colombians and the declaration of martial law in Táchira state. The president used the opportunity to lash out against “those right-wing journalists in Panama … a right-wing [woman] conspirator,” he said.
And while there are hundreds of journalists in Panama, and hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have migrated there, he could have only been referring to our Spanish-language deputy editor, Thábata Molina — a Venezuelan reporter based in Panama.
For the Maduro administration, anyone who reports the truth, or opposes him, is a “right-winger.” In reality, however, the only ones behaving like fascists are his government officials and supporters.
Never in the history of mankind has there been a more unlikely conspirator. Despite Maduro’s attempts to paint Thábata as the Venezuelan Mata Hari, she does not hide and has a significant following online. She has strong ties to her friends and family, and always speaks her mind. This is not what a “putschist” looks like.
The only thing Thábata does is seek the truth, and she does it well. After all, she was born in Catia, a poor neighborhood in Caracas, where the dumb die young, and only those who know how to fight survive.
It was in Catia that members of the pro-government paramilitary group La Piedrita kidnapped her for several hours, merely because of her bravery as a reporter. She had entered their turf armed with an audio recorder and a camera, ready to do her job, when they grabbed and beat her. Of course, the police never investigated the incident.
But Maduro, who clearly was not born in Catia and may actually be from Colombia, is a great aficionado of conspiracy theories. Maybe that’s because all he does lately is try and find excuses for the dreadful crisis the country has found itself in after 16 years of Chávez’s “Bolivarian Revolution.”
Thábata is a remarkable journalist who has twice worked under my supervision, once at El Universal and now here at the PanAm Post. On Friday, August 21, she published a series of tweets that included details about the alleged “ambush” perpetrated against three Venezuelan soldiers in Táchira, the incident that drove Maduro to declare martial law in the state.
Venezuelan outlet La Patilla, another of Maduro’s “usual suspects,” then republished Thábata’s tweets, boosting her exposure.
11.- Decretar un estad de excepción en Táchira no es más que otro show de Nicolás para desviar la atención de la crisis económica del país
— Thabata Molina (@Thabatica) August 22, 2015
“Maduro’s declaration of martial law in Táchira is just another maneuver to divert attention from the crisis.”
Like so many other Venezuelans who have grown tired of insecurity, low wages, shortages, and media censorship, she decided to look for new horizons abroad. Nevertheless, she is such a good journalist, who over time has cultivated reliable police sources, that even from afar she is able to routinely refute the lies told by Maduro and Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz.
The attorney general hasn’t uttered a single word yet about the grave human-rights violations on the Colombia-Venezuela border, which have raised serious concerns internationally.
The Venezuelan government is so obsessed with Thábata that her email and social-media accounts are constantly being hacked. But they still cannot deny what she wrote about the murder of Congressman Robert Serra, or what she says is happening right now on the border, which has been partially confirmed by El Nuevo Herald using other sources.
Maduro’s nightmare is that high-ranking officials are leaking information, and that contributes to his paranoia.
Seeing ghosts everywhere can be dangerous. Thábata is being targeted simply for telling the truth and not selling out. She fears for her loved ones who remain in Venezuela, because this government, desperate to survive, is capable of anything to hold on to power.
Maduro and his acolytes should know that despite his media hegemony, and his supposed resemblance to Joseph Stalin, there will always be journalists like Thábata Molina, who will continue to stand up to them, even if they are exiled at home or abroad.
This is what we have to deal with, as citizens and professionals. In the end, the truth will prevail, as Romanian writer Alexander Vlahuta said: “Truth knows how to wait; only lies are in a hurry.”