Real life: Venezuelan officials probing opposition messages coded into crossword puzzles


Crossword puzzles in a local Venezuelan newspaper are calling readers to violent protests with conspiratorial messages, the country’s information minister said today.

Delcy Rodriguez called for an investigation of El Aragueno daily from the industrial town of Maracay, 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Caracas for putting “encrypted messages” in its puzzles, she said in a post on her Twitter account. She didn’t give any details. …

Brain teasers have triggered the alarm of Venezuela’s socialist government before. In May 2012, state television accused the biggest national newspaper Ultimas Noticias of trying to organize the assassination of then-President Hugo Chavez through coded crossword messages. Chavez died from cancer a year later.

OK, crazies. Let’s put aside for a moment that the Venezuelan regime has a persistent and peculiar penchant for concocting wild, baseless, scapegoatist conspiracy theories about even the tiniest, strangest things and go ahead and flesh this theory out: Even if opposition forces were communicating to the masses through some secretly planned conjunction of 17 down and 22 across — stranger things have happened in the world of revolution and espionage, after all — what exactly would they be communicating about? Is it those greedy, subversive businessmen waging an “economic war” on Nicolas Maduro colluding about ways to jack up prices to undermine his leadership, rather than following the simple economic laws of supply and demand and trying to make a living? Or is it the political opposition leaders who have been… well, really open, actually, about their feelings on the matter and what they’re trying to acheive. On Twitter.

Nutshell translation: This government sucks.

But by all means, keep reverting to crazy stories about Venezuela has not real problems other than foreign imperialists and internal traitors to glory that would otherwise be the Bolivarian revolution. Maduro should write a book: “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.”

Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy and diplomatic power, has toned down its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro because of disappointment over how he is handling mounting economic problems and opposition-led street protests.

The shift, while subtle, has deprived Maduro of some of the regional backing he wants at a time of food shortages, high inflation and political uncertainty in the OPEC nation.

Broadly speaking, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff remains an ally of Maduro. While Rousseff is more moderate, both are part of a generation of leftist Latin American presidents who grew up opposing pro-Washington governments and believe they are united by a mission to help the poor.

However, Rousseff has been increasingly disappointed by some of Maduro’s actions and has reined in the more enthusiastic support that characterized Brazil-Venezuela relations under his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, according to two officials close to Rousseff’s government.