[News] 20 Points to Understand the Psychological War against Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 25 11:57:48 EDT 2013

  20 Points to Understand the Psychological War against Venezuela


By Olivia Suarez, Fernando Giuliani, Vanessa Davies - CdO, October 24th 

Do you feel like the country is falling apart? Do you believe that 
Chavismo, and particularly the national government, is responsible for 
everything that is bad? When you hear the music that identifies the 
joint transmissions of radio and television, do you feel like killing 
someone? Are you convinced that everyone is in a bad mood because they 
can't bear "the crisis"? Maybe you are the victim of a psychological war.

Bolivarian psychologists have talked about a psychological war. 
President Nicolas Maduro has also warned that what is behind it is an 
attempt to bring down the constitutional government and put an end to 
the revolution. Other sectors who know that the mind is a battlefield 
have remained silent.

Psychologists Olivia Suarez and Fernando Giuliani, members of the 
collective Psychologists for Socialism, warn that there is, in effect, a 
psychological war against the Venezuelan people, and that it didn't 
start this year but it worsened after the physical disappearance of 
/comandante/ Hugo Chavez. The present target, they warn, is the 
Bolivarian people, in order to create discouragement, but without 
leaving out the population which doesn't support the socialist process. 
The Correo del Orinoco offers twenty points to understand what is going on.

*1) What is the psychological war?*

"A psychological war isn't the same as a military war. But when we say 
'war' it's because the aim is to attack a target. It's important to 
differentiate this straight away, from what would be a very intense 
political confrontation," Giuliani explains. "War has an exclusive 
element of attacking a target, which in this case are many things."

Another element that characterises a war is that it is planned, that is 
"there are strategies that have an objective and are planned", there are 
people behind it which develop "an ensemble of resources, studying the 
situation, mobilising resources" towards that objective.

The psychologist adds that this form of war aims at the mind: "The scene 
is the mind, and we can understand 'mind' in many ways; it's the 
individual mind, but also we can say, the collective mind, social 
representations, attitudes, social relations, emotions, thoughts."

The analyst argues that there are clear proofs of a psychological war in 
Venezuela, for example, "it's a planned managing of rumours, a planned 
managing of a type of information that clearly has concrete aims."

The media are "evident instruments of this" and it's enough to go over 
the headlines of newspapers and television programs to see that 
"patterns start to appear". They all say the same, with a fundamental 
objective; "generate mental insecurity, generate uncertainty, generate 
states of alertness that don't correspond to reality". The psychologist 
uses as an example the AH1N1 virus; "There was, at least, three weeks, 
where the big headlines of the traditional newspapers were permanently 
talking about this, they always talked about it. The radio talked about 
it, and the television talked about it. And now scarcity, every day they 
talk about scarcity".

*2) How does one differentiate a real fact from psychological war?*

There are very concrete characteristics, said Giuliani. Those who want 
to paint a country in ruins "never end up deciding, showing, 
irrefutably, what they are saying". He takes again the example of the 
AH1N1 virus, because it was presented to the country as if there were a 
terrible epidemic, but the actions of the government to attack it 
weren't informed on very much.

"The media highlights negative things, the worst things that could 
happen. The doubt is always around the worst things. And they generate a 
sensation that nothing is being done about it and that the thing is 
going to get worse".

*3) What is the role of rumours in this strategy?*

Olivia Suarez adds that the perfect instrument for broadcasting this 
supposed information is the rumour. "And rumour always as part of an 
action, a story, a reference that is real. It's real in inverted commas, 
that is, part of a reference that allows you to believe that it is real, 
maybe because you experienced it or because your neighbour has just seen 
it, or because your brother-in-law was there when it happened. They will 
always tell it to you as though something from your reality was present. 
That is, it's not that any old person told me, my friend was there, or 
my uncle, my cousin".

When it's "believable", anyone will pass it on, because of good faith, 
because it's something that is happening. What happens with rumours at 
the moment? All the media and social networks broadcast it straight away 
and massively.

That is, "now it's not a rumour that Fernando told me, but it's gone on 
to Twitter to two million people simultaneously".

*4) What do the media do?*

The media, highlights Suarez, "is the new army of the new war. That is, 
now they aren't men who go to combat, body to body, man against man, 
woman against woman, they aren't going to use planes or tanks or machine 
guns. They use the media, telecommunications, the social networks, as 
part of a plan. They are groups who put out rumours and groups who 
create situations, who strengthen the possibility that they may be 
true," she said. "You're always going to see, then, in a supermarket, in 
a bank, in the Metro, in a little bus, people who start to tell you a 
story that could be out of context, especially about something emotional."

Both psychologists believe that it's not random that there are groups 
that, in different regions of the country, talk about the same topics. 
"It's noticeable, the similarity of the stories in different scenarios" 
as well as "how they argue, how they start with one thing and end up at 
the decisive point of the time; in the case of supermarkets, at not 
finding something." Said Giuliani. There are other sectors which, 
without knowing it, become accomplices of this. "And there is always 
someone recording what happened there, so it comes out on Youtube or the 
internet, that is, they are situations that are mainly going to 
reinforce the emotions that are being planted within the psychological war".

The communicational model that is being worked with is one of 
uncertainty, says Suarez. "That is, they put out a piece of news and it 
doesn't matter if it's true or a lie. Nor does it matter who put it out, 
because the important thing is that it generates doubt, and doubt is 
associated with not knowing what's going to happen".

*5) What do they seek*?

This uncertainty that they create "releases other emotions such as 
anxiety, fear, panic, rage," says Suarez. They are negative feelings 
which, "on the one hand are more difficult to eliminate, to fight, and 
that on the other hand are much more powerful than positive feelings. 
So, when they create negative feelings of such intensity, the people are 
on the point of desperation."

By bringing the population to this state, "the people are willing to 
seek anything that enables them to leave the situation", which leads 
people to confrontation and even violence in order to get out of the 
"big chaos".

The psychologist adds that this chaos has something real for the 
individual because "emotionally you are unstructured" but in your social 
life this unstructuring isn't true.

*6) Was the war accentuated with the death of */*comandante*/* Hugo Chavez?*

"Totally," responds Giuliani. However the expert refers to the campaign 
against /comandante/ Hugo Chavez, which started long before he became 
president. Proof of that is the fake audio where supposedly the 
/comandante/ threatened to fry the heads of Adecos [AD members], spread 
in 1988, which later was found to be a farce. The psychologist 
identifies the persistence of groups of power in maintaining "this 
permanent disinformation" and believes that they "did their job". 
Further, he adds that "the ancestral fear that there was here of the 
left and in all of Latin America". Feelings that are stirred up "don't 
predispose you to meeting nor to dialogue".

The psychologist clarified that its healthy to feel fear, but warned 
that, when they manipulate you in a prolonged way, it's very dangerous. 
"Why is it dangerous? Because they are feelings and thoughts that have a 
high irrational content. It's not because it's the result of a crazy 
person, what happens is that we have fears, and fears are not so easy to 
identify. We are scared of vague things, in the face of which sober, 
careful reasoning has to act for a long time in order to counter it," he 

One of the problems that he identifies is that a large part of the 
population doesn't believe that this exists, and that even less do they 
believe that there are organised people preparing these conditions.

*7) What are the targets of the war?*

The fundamental target, at this time, is Chavismo, warns Giuliani. "The 
death of /comandante/ Chavez opened up an opportunity for the vanguard 
of the right-wing opposition, as well as its allied groups, to divide 
Chavismo." What does the psychological war do against Chavismo? "It 
generates insecurity. Regarding what? The intention of different 
leaders, above all of President Maduro, the sense of union that the 
Chavista project has, the fear that with the death of Chavez all of this 
was finished with, because that's the discourse that the opposition 
always had."

For that, "they are supporting themselves with one thing that is true, 
that is the psychological impact and strong affection that the death of 
the /comandante/ brought about" and the mourning thereafter. The logical 
question of how to continue the revolution "opens you up to 
vulnerability which makes you think about things that you surely 
wouldn't have thought about".

*For example?*

The psychological war makes you think that this could end, it makes you 
wonder if Maduro will be able to cope with the presidency. For example, 
it can make you ask, "Will he be able to govern like my president Chavez 
did? Will he cope with the problems the country has?"

*8) The Chavista people are the only target?*

"The fundamental target is Chavismo, but it's not the only one. What do 
they want to create there? Division from fear, from insecurity from a 
mental point of view. But the rest of the people who don't support the 
Bolivarian project are still an important target," Giuliani stated.

The strategy towards that sector is aimed at drawing them together 
around the same thing: Making them believe Chavismo "is the worst thing 
that has happened to the country, that its the most corrupt, that they 
are incompetent, that they are unscrupulous people and capable of doing 
anything." Just has Giuliani says, "they are truly and unfortunately 
convinced that effectively this [the Bolivarian revolution] is useless, 
these rumours and the persistent discourse always point at the 
incompetency that is Chavismo, the corruption that is Chavismo, and when 
I say Chavismo, the psychological war talks about it in a way that there 
aren't any exceptions".

To these sectors, the possibility of thinking that there are honest and 
capable people in Chavismo and that the government is doing something 
well, isn't there, stated the psychologist. "And how do they achieve it? 
First, with persistence, because they have kept up this discourse for 14 
years, and secondly, by permanently bombarding, which doesn't give you 
the chance to reflect".

*9) What are the most vulnerable sectors?*

"The attacks are aimed at all types of people, with different munitions 
and messages," Suarez expressed.

With the youth it's insisted that they don't have a future, that they 
should leave the country. "There's a systematic pattern, so that the 
youth feel that whatever they study, the don't have hope or future in 
Venezuela," she commented. This doesn't just affect the youth but also 
families, because uprooting and emotional links enter into the game, as 
well as fear "that these links will be broken".

With women they want to plant the idea that they can't guarantee the 
food for their home, that they aren't free to buy what they like. "It 
has to do with the role of housewives who don't obtain [products], who 
aren't free to do what they really want to do".

With the elderly, the strategy is to create panic that they can die 
because, for example, they aren't going to be able to get medicine on 
time in the next few months.

"They are manipulating the most important fears to each of the sectors," 
she manifests. "For the elderly, there's the risk of dying, for the 
youth, their future, for the house wife, the possibility of not having 
control or the ability to give, to share, to belong, to have what one 
needs to have."

*10) Does the story about President Maduro's birth certificate play a 
role in this?*

It's a good example, says Giuliani. "They say that the president is 
Colombian, but they don't have to demonstrate it. What do they want to 
generate with this? In the general population they want to create doubt. 
If we analyse it coldly it doesn't resist a basic analysis, because when 
the president when to register his candidature at the National Electoral 
Council he had to take his birth certificate. But the people receive 
this information, and the brain and social mechanisms have a distinctive 
feature: they tend to complete information that isn't complete, we all 
do it."

The analyst uses the story of the telephone to describe what happens: 
 From the story of the neighbour who supposedly arrives late to their 
apartment, comes the story of the neighbour who was with another man. 
"People complete the story, but they always complete it according to its 
origin, if the rumour comes from something negative, they make it more 
negative, and later they add to it, as is the nature of the brain, a 
particularity that the social circuits have and which we call "pressure 
to infer". You are in a queue, and maybe you don't feel like talking, 
but if the people start to talk, you talk too, and you add something, 
later you go to a baptism and everyone starts to talk and say that there 
is a problem with scarcity, and two women were fighting over some 
precooked cornmeal".

The rumour, he says, "takes on its own life" even though it lacks a 
basis. On 14 April, after the presidential elections were over, the 
opposition candidate Henrique Capriles said he had other figures, 
Giuliani remembers. "He never talked about that again, but saying 
something like that had a lot of power because he said it to tense 
people who already had the idea that the CNE is useless". But it doesn't 
matter much if Capriles has something to prove what he said; the idea 
took off and he never denied it.

*11) Are rumours subject to reality checks?*

"No, the media, these spokespeople, these rumours, they are never 
subject to checking," said Giuliani. He says that it's not just a "very 
well planned war" but also a "frank manipulation and a full on lie." So 
"it's very easy for me to say "I have other results", as Capriles did, 
when really I don't have them, and no-one's going to ask me for them, 
and I've already said it".

The breeding ground was developed months and years before hand. "if you 
plant it today and you start today, no one is going to believe you, but 
within a year of systematic preparation of the terrain, you're going to 
believe anything," Suarez says.

*12) What are they seeking to create against the president?*

Those responsible for this psychological war "don't just have to divide, 
or make people believe that there are internal divisions in Chavismo, 
but also decrease the credibility of the leadership of the revolution" 
and in the process itself, Suarez analyses. To do that to the president 
they try to present him as a "liar" so that the people don't believe 
what he proposes. "Everything that indicates that the president is a 
liar, they are going to do psychologically". There are strategies for 
that, she adds; for example, maybe nothing is being said about 
insecurity, but the head of state today talks about the topic, tomorrow 
"the media will summarise the most violent events, the most horrendous 
and atrocious that you can imagine".

One thing is reality, the other is perception of reality, they argue.

*What is the perception now of Venezuela, as chaotic?*

Chaotic. That is, here, now, according to perception, there's scarcity, 
there's inefficiency, there's turmoil.

*Is there planned destruction of the image of the president?*

Of course. There was, openly, against Chavez, the psychologists say. The 
Bolivarian leader was subjected to moral death and they have used his 
image for all sorts of manipulation. Proof of that is the recording that 
they circulated a few weeks ago with the falsification of his voice.

Now, those who are behind the psychological war take what the president 
says in order to immediately belittle it. For example, "if he creates 
Corpomiranda in order to be able to relieve all the problems in Miranda 
[state], the next day the headline is 'This is going to be the same 
inefficiency, the same bureaucracy, a means for corruption'. It's an 
immediate reaction so that people assume that what the president does 
will always be a failure.

The permanent reviling of the leader also aims to stop the Chavista 
people from uniting with his leadership, that's why they attribute 
everything bad to him.

*13) What role does the use of Chavismo's symbols play for Anti-Chavismo?*

One of the aims is to increase confusion, the psychologists emphasise. 
They want it to be believed that in the face of the supposed uncertainty 
of Chavismo there is the certainty that the opposition has something 
better to offer.

Also, by stealing certain symbols, such as the cap with the Venezuelan 
flag, "they want to steal or appropriate ideas" that united the vast 
majority, such as the homeland, independence, values, culture. "When 
these sectors start to appropriate or try to appropriate some things, 
they cause rifts. Those who lead the war "play a lot with marketing that 
aims at discrediting, belittling the Bolivarian leaders, and on the 
other hand at positioning well the leaders of the anti-Chavismo.

According to Giuliani, "they have tried to appropriate some concepts of 
Bolivarianism, of Chavismo, of socialism, of the left, in order to trap 
and confuse some sectors, sectors with Chavismo that are undecided."

*14) How is the chaos they are trying to plant in the minds of the 
people made evident?*

"In the type of conversation that people have, in their daily 
conversations," Giuliani says. "The conversations are riddled with the 
types of problems that go with the interpretations. That is, people 
don't just say 'we have shortage problems', but 'we have shortage 
problems because of this and this and this'".

The psychologist explains that, furthermore, this is accompanied by 
irrational verbalisations, without an accurate analysis of what people 
are really living. Another example, "You go every day to any place and 
they attend to you warmly, but one day a bad person attends to you and 
the thing is converted into 'everyone is anxious, everyone is angry', 
even though it's not true".

It's also based on "the compartmentalised vision that middle class 
people had for a very long time, that has systematically refused to 
recognise that there are other spaces [sectors] in the country and that 
the world could be limited to their surroundings, and people who think 
differently don't fit in those surroundings".

The psychologist, in his analysis, doesn't put prejudices to one side. 
"If you are a person who has always thought that the poor are lazy, that 
the poor are undisciplined, that the poor need to be spurred on, and the 
opinion matrix against the revolution sustains that Chavez is a "lover 
of snakes", surely you'll believe it. In your head, as a consequence, 
there's no space for the idea of an organised people."

*15) What are the weapons that psychological war uses?*

Giuliani cites a model in social psychology, "which is related to social 
influence" and that indicates "what you should do to influence [things] 
when you have a choice that isn't a majority one". He cites various 
elements: "You have to be insistent and persistent, you have to say the 
same thing all the time, you have to be consistent in what you say, and 
you have to resist in the face of proofs of the reality, that is, if 
they call on you to prove this, you brazenly change the topic and keep 
talking. This is called psychological resistance, or in colloquial terms 
is a very cheeky guy".

What is the effect that this has? "These three things combined open up 
the space for doubt, a space that other things can penetrate," he warns.

The model isn't bad per se. The psychologist says that it can be used to 
change the vision of the population of organ transplant, for example, in 
order to increase donations and help save lives.

*16) At what point does the psychological war become a physical war?*

The vanguard of Anti-Chavismo hopes so, Fernando Giuliani warned. He 
cited what happened on 11 April 2002 on Puente Llaguno, with a staged 
killing spree to justify the coup against /comandante/ Hugo Chavez, as 
well as the march called for by the anti-Chavismo for 17 April this year 
to the CNE. This mobilisation, prohibited by the president, could have 
ended up with the people against the people. "What they were seeking 
there is a confrontation", but fortunately the head of state prevented 
the protest from happening.

"A confrontation here would be enough" to justify the occupation of the 
country by external forces, he argues. He remembers what happened in 
Chile in 1973, when the leadership of the armed forces decided to 
perpetrate a coup against the constitutional government in order to put 
an end to the supposed chaos created by the right. "In Chile they 
generated the need for change", something they want to replicate in 
Venezuela, he said.

*17) What is the final objective of the psychological war? *

To plant in the population the "need for change" and that the majority 
of people think that anything is better than the "disorder" that they 
supposedly experience. From there, the overthrowing of the national 

They hope to "return to normality, which isn't real, it's the normality 
of the values of the bourgeoisie, it's the normality of the values and 
the naturalness of the capitalist or imperialist system," Suarez accused.

*18) Is the psychological war infallible?*

No it isn't, Giuliani says. There are many people, especially in 
Chavismo, who "bit by bit are recovering an ability to read critically, 
and this can't be underestimated".

The psychologist recalls that between 2001 and 2002 the people were 
subjected to strong pressure by these sectors, which included the 
resurrection of operation Peter Pan (the "regime" would confiscate 
children and families should take them overseas). Suarez says that in 
some zones of Caracas it got to the point where between 2002 and 2005, 
of having hot oil to throw against "the Chavistas", as well as ice ready 
in the fridge for the same end. "The crisis was very intense, from an 
emotional point of view, and the people resisted with a critical reading 
and of course, by being clear about where they were going".

"If there is a people that has been an example in the world of 
resistance in the face of psychological war and the media, it's the 
Venezuelan people," Giuliani says. Because when Chavez was born as a 
candidate he didn't have the press in his favour. "He was subjected to 
the craziest and most ferocious campaign in the history of our 
elections, and he won".

*19) What is the antidote to the psychological war?*

The political consciousness of the people has grown a lot, the experts 
state. "There has been a very recent history, a very close one, which 
identifies completely with a leader" which enables people to doubt what 
the media says and the right-wing campaign.

However, Suarez affirms, vulnerability increases when the population 
doesn't have "antennas" prepared to capture that there is something 
irregular, as happens in the soap operas. "In the soap operas, they 
don't handle direct news, but use imaginary symbols. That is, if in all 
the soap operas or all the series that we watch they start to deal with 
fear, uncertainty, desperation, injustice, you're left with this 
emotion, which you then connect to when you go to the supermarket and 
there's no milk," she says.

*20) How can people protect themselves from the psychological war?*

"The most important tool for people to protect themselves is 
organisation," they both respond together. That implies, among other 
actions, "the creation of anti-rumour brigades, that allow you to verify 
information," they propose.

The state should guarantee true information in a systematic way, they 
stress, because if not, lies prevail. In that sense they also believe 
that its important to fine those who have generated chaos with their 
supposed "information".

For Giuliani and Suarez it's important that there are "very high levels 
of cohesion within all the organised Chavista people, because that is 
the main target that is being aimed at". They both insist that each 
person can maintain their beliefs and ideologies if they want to, but 
they stress that it's important not to lose a critical understanding of 

/Translation by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com. The original 
article has been slightly abridged./

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