Following an interview with Venezuela’s de facto dictator Nicolas Maduro, Univision anchor and news host Jorge Ramos and his crew were detained in Caracas. Ramos had questioned Maduro about the lack of democracy and humanitarian famine crisis in Venezuela, in addition to the torture of political prisoners who oppose his regime. When Maduro was shown a video of Venezuelans eating garbage, the interview was promptly cut short. Ramos and his production team were detained, and their equipment was confiscated. Although they were promptly set free, many have seen this action as a direct attempt to stifle the truth and journalism in Venezuela, where citizens are experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises this century. How do you view this detainment in the context of the plight of the Venezuelan people?  

Maya Zanger-Nadis ’21

The quality people tend to appreciate in dictators is strength.  Strength keeps the borders secure and is tough on crime-- strength  makes people feel safe, although the danger is often concocted by the dictator themselves.  Maduro projects strength and is therefore popular with some Venezuelans despite being the cause of their plight.  I cannot help but be reminded of Trump, who gets away with just about anything because he projects strength and makes his supporters feel safe.  And, like with many situations involving our own fearless leader, I fear that Maduro will get away with his abuse of this news crew, especially since he didn’t even torture or physically harm them.  Just as Trump can and will strongarm his way through the U.S. government unscathed, Maduro will come away from this run-in with the media untouched. What is more, people will forget about this just like they forget about Trump’s numerous misdeeds and instances of impropriety.

Maya Zanger-Nadis ’21 is a Linguistics Major and the editor of the Justice’s Arts section.

Prof. Gordon Fellman (SOC)

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela. The United States has invaded these countries, overthrowing democratically elected governments and supporting right wing dictatorships friendly to our fruit companies (Guatemala, e.g.) copper companies (Chile), and more. Our climate change denying government most likely is aiming at access to the vast stores of oil Venezuela controls. While terrible things are happening in Venezuela, there is pressure on Trump from his hawk advisors to invade. The US routinely makes matters much worse for Latin American populations in favor of their elites who work with US corporations to maintain control of resources. As disgusting as Maduro’s treatment of journalists has been, the US should support internal processes of confrontation and politics rather than engaging in the same old same old disastrous tactics that bring misery to the majority of Latin American people.

Gordon Fellman is a Professor of Sociology specializing in the sociology of empowerment, masculinities, psychoanalytic sociology, and public sociology.

Prof. Kristen Lucken (SOC)

After confronting President Nicolas Maduro over the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, Univision’s anchor Jorge Ramos was detained and his materials confiscated.  Ramos chastised the militia, saying, “you can't treat us like that, we are free press, this is not how you treat the press…" Ramos gambled that international fame and journalistic immunity would protect him against the very hands that have assaulted and economically devastated Venezuela and its people since 2013. While this incident represents a slap in the face of journalistic freedom, in reality, Ramos received a simple hand slap compared to the brutality launched against Venezuela’s own citizens.

Kristen Lucken is a Professor of Sociology and director of the Master’s in Global Studies program at Brandeis.