Under the cover of a crowdsourced hagiography of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, his successors and acolytes are taking his most damaging lesson to heart: They are continuing to imprison people for speaking out online.
Chávez’s government continues to crack down on free speech after his death. In January, Venezuela raided the home of Federico Medina Ravell, who was “repeatedly denounced on state television as the supposed author of tweets questioning information the government has provided on Chávez’s health.”
Now, another Twitter user has been targeted. According to Global Voices, on March 14, Lourdes Alicia Ortega Pérez “was detained by the Scientific Penal and Criminal Investigation Corps (CICPC, by its Spanish acronym), for allegedly having ‘usurped the identity of an official of the Autonomous Service of Registries and Notaries’ and having sent Tweets that authorities deemed ‘destabilizing [to] the country.’”
“I don’t know,” she tweeted, “but he’s become a wax doll.” She was referring the decision to embalm the leader’s corpse and put it on display in a mausoleum.
According to a press release from Venezuela’s Interior Ministry, Pérez’s computer was seized, the instrument of her alleged one-woman crusade to destabilize Venezuela.
The obvious ridiculousness of finding that Pérez’s tweet destabilizing has led Venezuelans to employ the hashtag #tuitdesestabilizador—”destabilizing tweet”—to satirize the overreaction.
If you are from Venezuela, now would be the best time to use a VPN. This allows you to establish an encrypted VPN tunnel to a host (or server) on the Internet. You can surf anonymously, without limits, as it is impossible for others to intercept your traffic due to the VPN server. Your Internet activities are undetectable. Anyone trying to see what you are doing on the internet will fail because they will only see the encrypted packets you are sending.