Airstrip One Proud To Welcome Data Freedom Fighter (Updated)

2168276Dear Compañero Snowden,

We were thrilled to hear you’re currently considering Venezuela as a place of refuge. But we were distressed to hear other reports suggesting you might go to Quito instead, where the weather is horrid and you can’t even get proper sushi. We’d like to make the case for our homeland as the clearly superior destination for irony-immune freedom of information martyr types.

See, in Venezuela we know better than to let honored guests wither away in broom closets for years on end. As our previous guests can attest to, no other country provides the safety, comfort, and luxury our country provides for el imperio’s most wanted. One of our previous VIP guests, Colombian guerrilla leader Rodrigo Granda, was tantalized by our tropical fruit, the relaxed attitudes of our people, and the charming weather of our coastal mountains. Granted, there was that unpleasant little mishap with Mr. Granda’s security detail, which allowed the Colombian military to snatch him and smuggle him across the border to his home country, but rest assured, those issues have been dealt with.

You are in the hands of a confident State security apparatus, one that controls every aspect of public safety. It’s no wonder that Venezuela has been named one of the safest countries in the planet – not a single leaf moves in Venezuela without President Nicolás Maduro knowing about it.

Another of our previous guests was Peruvian master spy Vladimiro Montesinos. Mr. Montesinos managed to live a quiet life of luxury in our country for a period of time –  he even had some work done! Our surgeons, you see, are second to none. Rest assured that the scandal that ensued when he was caught and quickly extradited he suffered are well behind us. As you know, we are anti-imperialists to the core … so don’t pay attention to those gushing pictures of our Foreign Minister with John Kerry, they don’t mean anything. When we keep an American, we keep him for good. Just ask Tim Tracy!

There are a number of jobs you can devote yourself to while you’re enjoying our tropical workers’ nirvana and waiting for the long hand of US justice to inevitably snatch you eventually.

As you know, our Internet is the fastest in the world. Our state-owned, rojo-rojito single-access-point to the internet is steel-armored against government data snooping. Our late Comandante Supremo made sure of that by driving anyone even vaguely technically proficient enough to run a PRISM-like operation to flee the country years ago for better paying gigs in Silicon Valley. CANTV needs you.

We also have a popular TV show that has set world standards for privacy protections and conveniently happens to be looking for a new host. Speak Spanish much? If not, no importa, we’ll figure something out.

If all else fails, you can always go into the profitable business of selling greenbacks in the black market. Given how you are probably flying from Hong Kong to Moscow to Caracas, we think you have muchos greenbacks at your disposal. Pro-tip: your new handlers are going to try to get you to hand over your dollars to them for 6.40 bolivars. (Bolivars are what we call the goofy sideways-printed “money” here.) Don’t fall for it, unless you want them to peg you for a chump from day one. Ask for 35 bolivars for a buck and settle for Bs.31 – you need these people to respect you!

Oh, and if this is a line of work that interests you and you want to know the people in charge of the black market, just head out to Capitolio Metro station and ask for “godgiven.”

As you can see, Venezuela is an ideal place for you to spend the rest of your days (possibly months) in freedom. We do hope you’ll honor us with your presence. It’d be hilarious.

You did remember bring your own toilet paper, right?

Update: Darn, seems like the toilet paper thing was a deal breaker.

73 thoughts on “Airstrip One Proud To Welcome Data Freedom Fighter (Updated)

  1. You’ll love it, think Honolulu with free gasoline and 3k homicides (they had it coming) a year. To make you feel even more at home the land laws of Vzla are as dense and irrational has the “Beeg Island”. You’re a natural, don’t go all Bobby Fischer now.

    • A member of Aeroflot’s personnel HAD CLAIMED Snowden might have been choosing between Quito or Caracas before boarding his then-scheduled flight to Havana. No one in Aeroflot could be sure of that since they’ve no record —this airline has no flights to Quito nor Caracas. By now it’s known Snowden never thought of flying to Caracas.

      Instead of promoting it, Venezuelans should be doing everything in their reach to help stop this new cliche from spreading: Caracas as a terrorist destination.

  2. Just saw Bob Schiffer in face the nation on CBS interviewing a republican senator from Tenessee
    ( the one that proposes a 4 bil $$$$ plan of stationing forty thousand agents on the mexican/us border ) commenting on Schiffer’s op/ed on “now that Snowden, the criminal not the hero, was taking a tour of communist countries, tomorrow Cuba and then probably Venezuela or Ecuador”
    I was shocked by two things : one being oficially labeled by the gringos as a commie country. Not that I didn’t know it, but still it’s a shock to me to listen to this on CBS. Second the Republican drawled and twanged that even though the relations with Venezuela are not optimal ” they are better since the last election” sooo where the hell is the non acknowlodging of mr ripe- as you call him- as the legitimate prez? What makes this twanger from Tennesee think there is $$$$$pace for negotiating? Hmmmm I facetiously wonder.

    • What’s your beef with a Republican Senator speaking Southern? I seldom use ad hominems, but you my friend are an ignorant resented ankle-biting [thank you, come again -ed].

      • Thanks for clarifying that insulting a US Republican Senator with a clearly anti-white racial undertone is ok, but replying with an equally insulting anti-hispanic word is not. Would the racially neutral word “asshole” have been ok? What is the significance in making an argument by pointing out in a demeaning way that the person spoke in a “drawled and twanged” way? It’s insulting to me as a Southerner and the person will get it right back on the imaginary chin.

  3. Well, he won’t see toilet paper for quite some time, but hey, at least we’ll hook him up with as much patria as he wants.

  4. You can’t get much better global PR than this. For the #1 enemy of war criminals and bankster villians to seek asylum in your country is the highest honour!

  5. I’m sure that the kind of government snooping which Snowden has revealed and which has many (by contemporary Venezuelan standards) horribly spoiled gringos all bent out of shape must seem like pretty small beer to the Caracas Chronicles crew. And the irony of someone like Snowden possibly seeking refuge in the Venezuela of Chavez and Maduro is, of course, too rich for words. However, are you saying that Snowden and those Americans who’ve been applauding his willingness to pull aside a bit of the curtain that’s been hiding the U.S. government’s spying on its own citizens are spoiled and hypersensitive? Or are you saying that they are simply, dangerously wrong – the “useful idiots” of our time?

    • At least he asked for asylum. Let’s see how he gets there. There is a long way from Moscow to Ecuador.

      • Aeroflot flights directly to Havana from Moscow. He can connect there safely to “the freedom of information” that awaits him in Quito.

      • And there appears to be a waiting list, with Assange still in the Ecuador embassy in London.

  6. Surely a role for him in offering CNE assistance in updating its software to ensure better information security of SMARTMATIC programmes so that voting is secret and that no one can suggest they know who voted, who voted for whom and who did not vote.

  7. I wish you had/will done a serious post on why he decided to go to Ecuador instead of Venezuela.
    I find the decision significant.

        • Wrong. Chavez would have embraced Snowden and loved the ensuing fight. Maduro doesn’t because he is weak. Just like your revolution.

    • Have you tried to go on the Internet from Venezuela?
      Also: there are a few things computer people require, apart from basic computer stuff, which cannot be ignored. Two of them are decent coffee and toilet paper.
      I still wonder if the guy is not just targeting Iceland. Of course, the problem with Iceland now is that it has a centre-right bloke as prime minister.

      • God, you are so infantile, Kepler. Go and eat some French fries with mayonnaise and practise speaking walloons.

        • I forgot the blackouts, of course….one can only live in Caracas or in a posh area of Valencia or Maracaibo in order to have only very short blackouts. Maduro is afraid of prolonged blackouts too close to his palace.
          Right, Arturo? You obviously don’t live in the average Venezuelan city.

    • I think he went to Ecuador because Assange already had the contacts in place to help Snowden and Correa can use the PR to divert attention of his controversial Press Law.

      • I think that after the Kerry-Jaua drooling meeting the Maduro government would be risking the ground thas it has gained with the US by granting Snowden asylum. Whereas for Ecuador, after Assange, there is no much to be lost by granting the asylum.

    • If you knew anything or did any research, Bruni, you might find out why he chose Ecuador. Look for a recent interview on YouTube with Julian Assange pn RT and you may find a clue.

      Part of the clue is that a wikileaks legal representative was on the Hong Kong-Moscow flight and that Assange’s legal time is headed up by everyone’s favorite (ex) judge, Balthasar Garzón.

  8. Very funny post, althought i’m not sure that Mr. Snowden will be in the mood for funny these days.

    Well, even if our government would grant asylum just because of its own flawed anti-imperialist discourse, i think it’s great. Although i find it a bit strange that this time, chavistas are defending the guy (a whistleblower) and oppositors are actually calling him things like a terrorist, and making puns about government being a haven for such types. Well, that is accurate, Venezuela is and has been a haven for such types, but i find i disturbing where the sympathies of oppositors lie these days. They are not anymore what they used to be 5 years ago, mostly educated people that defended democratic values over government own interpretations of laws that always benefit its own clench over essential freedoms. Now i see people doing irrational statements, just as irrational as your run-of-the-mill chavista likes to do

    It is a sad realisation, because it makes the point that, as the opposition will displace chavism in a few years tops, it will probably mean little or no change, as the common denominator, which is the lack of critical thinking, has become ubiquitous and self-sustaining

  9. Well he is spending the night in the Venezuelan embassy though, after being picked up at the airport by Ecuador. The US is asking for extradition from everyone, saying he has no passport because it was pulled yesterday after being charged under 1917 Espionage Act. I for one hope this dashes that so called new era, that the State Dept.thought it has with Venezuela. It is a wrongful foreign policy to begin with (the “enemy of my enemy” was bad enough and just like any other capitalist country to now going to the “my enemy is my friend” is total absurdity , just like being buddies with the USA’s 51st state, Colombia.

    • Cort – the BBC correspondent is reporting that Snowden is in a “transit hotel” called th Capsule Hotel so he has not passed on to Russian territory. We will have to see if he embarks on the Aeroflot flight to La Hababa tomorrow.

  10. Sincé you jumped the gun (yet again!) on this subject, the fact that Snowden will be going to Quito via La Habana and Maiquetía (probably) unless Cuba de Aviavación has a direct flight there, your post has proven to be a complete waste of time and I would of thought that someone of your allefed intellect could have found something more fertile to write about.

    Compared to when you lainched this site in September 2002, you really have lost the plot. And yes Kerry did look honored to meet Jaua in Guatemala.

    • Lot’s of typos, are you on your iPad again? As to Kerry, it speaks well of him that he puts the freedom of innocent US citizens first (Tim Tracey), looking diplomatic is part of that deal

    • Typo’s are one thing, but one of my grammatical pet peeves is “would of”. THINK about what you are trying to say, not just what it sounds like!!!! The proper term is “would have”, Same goes for “could have”, and “should have”!

  11. I’m a hardliner re: Snowden, but your welcome to whistle blowers blog is lovely! I’d feel right at home! If I weren’t a security conservative!

  12. Still, it would be interesting if English speaking Venezuelan bloggers would give their opinion about what Snowden revealed, beyond the big paradox this guy is apparently going to a country where freedom of speech is being under constant attack by the government.

    What Snowden has “revealed” so far is actually nothing new, one could actually read accessible data about that. But for the names of the specific projects, anyone could have found out about that (the obligation for Google and the like to give private records and not just let itself be surreptitiously monitored could have been inferred).

    The thing is: do you as Venezuelan would like a future Venezuelan government to ignore the fact certain countries are using enormous sums of money to analyse absolutely all your digital data? Do you think that’s unavoidable? Obviously, normal letters and traditional calls could not be monitored in mass before, this is not something that “always happened”. The ones doing the monitoring now are increasingly organisations working with private companies and executives and employees on both sides come and go all the time, creating extreme cases of conflicts of interests.

    Companies carrying out services such as Google and Facebook do not need to be set up in the territory of this or that country – meaning that even if they operate globally, the justice department of the US cannot force an Internet company based in Germany to break the German law, for instance.

    Any thoughts about this?

      • So it is. But your very entertaining post was also about the Snowden affair, and though you didn’t come right out and say so an attentive reader could be forgiven for inferring an attitude of disdain if not contempt towards Snowden and his ilk.

        • Quite right. Just this: my contempt stems from the juxtaposition of his Principled Crusader for Privacy and his cozying up to regimes who fuck with their political opponents electronic communications 5 times before breakfast. On the broader question, we’ll remain silent because, really, why would anyone care what I think about that?

          • Maybe because you bring an unusual, perhaps unique perspective to this topic – just as a distinctive perspective informs the observations on this topic and other aspects of American politics by the British expat John Cassidy (at the New Yorker’s website)? Interestingly, one of the rare occasions when I’ve seen Cassidy put a foot wrong – as he might say – was a few months ago when he took it upon himself to comment on the situation in Venezuela.

            • Bueno, but you make my point neatly with your example. It’s precisely because I’ve seen too many top writers make asses of themselves when writing about stuff they have no particular knowledge/insight into that I long ago made the decision to write only about the Venezuelan angle on issues like this one.

              • Having a distinctive perspective can give one an advantage but yes, other things being equal it’s usually helpful if a writer actually knows something – preferably a lot – about his topic. Despite some important similarities, the situation in the U.S. – especially the historical context – is quite different from the one with which you and your countrymen and -women are familiar. One of the reasons that I enjoy CC is that it gives me a chance to see how people in what is, in some ways, a very different type of country have been struggling with some of the same issues and problems which have been vexing and perplexing me and my fellow “Americans.”

          • Snowden is hardly “cozying up” to these regimes. He is more probably a man with limited options, and who has the most powerful government on Earth working overtime to close them completely.

            Ecuador seems the least malignant of options, when trying for asylum, reasonably out of the reach of the Federal Government. At least until the institutions move in the U.S.A. to charge the real criminals, namely those behind PRISM. And clear Snowden.

            On the other hand, it’s a good post you wrote. Illustrating just how ridiculous it would be for Snowden to seek asylum in Venezuela. One can only hope that Ecuador is not nearly as ludicrous.

      • OK, I won’t go further into this but let me say just this:

        The post does touch a matter relevant to Venezuelans as well: data security and what is the stance of the opposition towards this and what would it be in the future. Do we see this as “beyond the control for us poor Venecos”?

        It is a fact governments such as those of the Dutch, the German and the Swedish want to provide for some basic guarantees, at least some protection for citizens’ data. That could mean use of open source for certain government processes, preventing certain bodies – including municipalities – from letting data be “in the cloud” with Google while Google doesn’t give the proper guarantees for what is done with the data (this has become more of an issue now with these “revelations”, even if these were not real revelations for those who paid attention to these matters).

        This topic is NOT like the Middle East topic or what is happening with Guatemala/Nicaragua. We Venezuelans and we oppos also should have an opinion.
        Is it the opinion that US/China/Cuba wants us to have?

        • The magazine Der Spiegel says that Germany has it’s own mini-Prism. And would like to get better at it. Currently, Germany randomly stores a portion of the information that passes through it. That info is filtered (like the NSA filters) and German-to-German contact is thrown out. Any info containing foreign contact is opened and read. If there is a German citizen in the mix, that citizen gets a notification of this. The foreigners get nothing. If Germany created it’s own version of Google, etc, and foreigners used it, they’d be spied on by Germans, not the US.

          There is no such thing as data security.

          • There has been an open discussion about these issues before the PRISM affair came to the general attention. Yes, indeed, the BND plans to expand and the BKA has actually used monitoring software even where it should not have. And every human being needs to be aware of that and take the decision whether he will just play like a sheep or protest.

            There is the data security that we as citizens demand. And we have the right to demand as much transparency as possible. Governments (which are made up of individuals, many with a lot of economic interests) are not Heaven and they are not laws of Nature.
            In Germany there is an open discussion on this and even if most people are rather passive, that is out of sheer ignorance about the real implications of using this big but confidential data.

            One of the main issues is that sooner than later this information is being used by private companies and governments “in the name of the state” end up taking decisions that have more to do with the interests of individuals in private companies than with the general well-being. Not for nothing a lot of the guys who are in the “intelligence” agencies top come and go from the boards of directors of these security companies to which the state is outsourcing.

            And that is shameless (I have to say, the outsourcing is much more pronounced within the big 5, in the Anglo group, and because of that particular business interests tend to mingle even more with state decision)

            • Corporations are already selling your information and using it. The governments are just getting in on it. There will never be a region of the internet free of someone prying into your affairs, no matter if governments all promised to give up spying or filtering.

              The only way to deal with it is to make it impossible to spy on the information in the first place. At present, privacy advocates haven’t found a solution.

              • Kris,
                I am aware these corporations used my data. But the thing gets more grim when government and companies all get blurred and some companies – and they end up having that – and economic interests actually get to linked relatively trivial data with all the digital, on line behaviour people can have.

                I am not naive as to think governments will stop spying. Still, I am all for educating people about the sheer extent in which state and companies are screening us and what they can exactly do with that data.

                Governments and companies do not want us to educate people on the real extent in which one can use data, even “metadata”…we don’t really read the content…that’s pointless and beside the point. You don’t need to read the “content”.

            • Governments are businesses, too – monopolies, no less. And the fact that they can make a prima facie claim to be acting “in the public interest” gives them a powerful cloak that can be used to hide the fact that the decisions that they make are often primarily motivated by their interest in doing whatever will best serve the interests of that government or agency or the interests of the individuals who work there. This sort of corruption has been around a very long time, of course. But modern communications technologies have put tools of unprecedented power in the hands of those who would act surreptitiously to further their own interests in the name of “the people” – an unfortunate fact of modern life of which the citizens of Venezuela hardly need to be reminded.

  13. THANK GOD Snowden didn’t chose Venezuela! The amount of melodramatic, ideological crapulence that would have ensued on the part of the government would have been an unbearable torture.

    • Indeed. But had he chosen it, it would have been proof he didn’t have a clue. He should know how crappy Internet connections are in the Land of Grace (and about the toilet paper and the cooking oil and the blackouts and so much more)
      My bet stands he is heading towards Iceland (or remaining in Russia)

  14. Muy importante the final though about him bringing his own paper toilet por favor! BYOTP (instead of BYOB) lol

  15. FT, some comments on Montesinos and thoughts on Snowden. VMs stay in VE was actually not pleasant post-op as his caretakers the Guevara bros. turned on him. He was kept without AC and was in pain. When local funds ran out they went after Miami account where Jose Guevara was nabbed by FBI. Jose cut deal with Peru government for US$5 million to turn VM over. Peru subsequently reneged on bounty and Jose successfully sued and won in US courts. The records are online. Another reason the Guevara bros. where framed in the Danilo Anderson state assassination…they are real badasses who needed to be neutralized.

    It is to the US’s benefit if Snowden travelled to Ccs next week aboard presidential bird with Maduro on return from Moscow-Belarus trip. Easier to repatriate from the Cubans.

    • The US can’t offer much to Cuba. The embargo act states that it is in place as long as someone named ‘Castro’ is in charge. (Which means if Cuba went to random selection for leadership and ended up with “Jose Castro”, it would still be illegal to do business with Cuba.) And the Cuban-Americans control US policy toward Cuba–and they are immovable.

      But the latest news says that Ecuador officials weren’t even allowed to talk to Snowden by the Russians. Russia is playing Kafka games.

  16. Another note, Patricia Poleo amazingly received a prestigious international journalism award for her coverage of the Montesinos case which was just not true. I spoke with Jose Guevara many times and am friends with his legal team on this case…attorney Mike Diaz. Many of the online docs about Jose’s lawsuit detail the events in the case. Patricia’s account is pure fiction.

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