September 3, 2008

Venezuelan Parties Still Don't Get the Internet

Quico says: One thing should be clear by now: Venezuelan party websites pretty much suck. Most of them appear to have been started up by an enthusiastic volunteer or two who didn't really think through the time-commitment needed to keep a website permanently updated and gave up pretty early on. With just a few exceptions (PJ, UNT, PCV), it's easy to see party leaders don't much care what their party's web presence is like. It's telling, for instance, that you never ever see a URL printed on a party political placard in Venezuela.

As far as the opposition goes, it's no surprise. If Venezuela has a mad proliferation of tiny, half-baked, ineffective opposition party websites none of which can seem to reach the critical mass needed to have a real impact, much of that is down to the fact that we have a mad proliferation of tiny, half-baked, ineffective opposition parties none of which can seem to reach the critical mass needed to have a real impact. The dysfunction of the opposition's websites is the dysfunction of the opposition.

Only Primero Justicia takes any kind of stab at using the web for organizing purposes, but even they barely scratch the surface in terms of the way the internet can be used as a tool for grass-roots political organizing. The kinds of techniques for channeling people's political concerns into specific action pioneered by sites like and and later adapted by the likes of and, closer to home, No Más FARC, are just not on the radar screen in Venezuela.

There's a terrible wasted opportunity in all of this. Net access is fast becoming the norm in Venezuela's middle class, and even poor people have at least sporadic access through schools and infocentros. But while Venezuelans have become politicized to an extent that would've seemed unthinkable just a decade ago, that energy can't seem to find the organizational channels it needs to fuel real world political action. Instead of catalyzing mobilization, online politics in Venezuela remains confined to ranting viciously on sites like Noticiero Digital, dominated by a fringe of die-hard anti-politics know-nothings who prefer to wallow in a form of infantile nihilism that dissipates political energy rather than channeling it into action.

It's a damn shame.