We believe Sucre, a window to combat the censorship imposed by Chavismo

Photo: La Patilla

 

It is no secret to anyone that access to information in Venezuela is restricted by multiple factors imposed by Nicolás Maduro’s regime, although the limitations on freedom of expression and attacks on journalists and the media date back to the arrival of Hugo Chávez to Miraflores. Sucre State, in the east of the country, is considered one of the poorest in the country and its citizens face many deficiencies.

By La Patilla – Víctor Federico González

Aug 15, 2022

The difficulties in enjoying adequate food and the inefficiency of public services top the list of people’s complaints, since these very directly affect their quality of life, but access to information is also among those rights that are systematically violated in Venezuela, especially during the last five years.

Sucre State does not escape this reality, and the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) “Creemos Sucre” (Wordplay that implies We Believe in Sucre and Let’s Create Sucre) since 2019 has made an enormous effort to bring reliable uncensored information to those places where those who hold power do not want it to reach.

“As an organization, we were formally born in November 2019. Since then, it has been almost three years working for and by the people of Sucre, to generate local and sustainable development in each of the communities of the state, as well as train and inform the citizens. It has been almost three years of learning a lot for us, of getting to know the different realities in which the people of Sucre live and being able to be that window through which they can make their problems known and contribute to their solution,” said the President of the NGO “Creemos Sucre”, Ibsen Medina, to La Patilla.

He pointed out that “many of its members have spent years betting not only on Sucre as a geographical entity, but also betting on Sucre as the maker of those necessary changes that are needed for our society to be increasingly developed.”

This organization has positioned itself in the eastern region due to its ample willingness to work for and by the people with a focus on local and sustainable development. It has a presence in four of the 15 municipalities that make up the State, these being Sucre, Bermúdez, Montes and Valdez. These are the jurisdictions where they carry out a large part of their activities that range from projections and talks, to flyers and flip charts. They have even organized sanitation days on the beaches of Cumaná. “Our goal is to be able to have a beneficial impact in the 15 municipalities of Sucre State counting on volunteers, collaborators and allies in each of them,” says Mr. Medina.

Furthermore, through their social networks they also have other initiatives that stand out, such as the digital magazine “Creemos Cultura” (We believe/Let’s create Culture), the Protest Monitor, We “Creemos con Corazón” (Believe with Heart), which a series of informative infographics and forum-chats with topics of general interest.

Next to the People of Sucre

Creemos Sucre, a window to combat the censorship imposed by Chavismo

“I have always said that if “Creemos Sucre” were a person, everyone would want to have it as a friend. Our goal has always been for Creemos Sucre to be a helping hand for the communities, to always remain as close to the people as one of them. We believe Creemos Sucre is an organization with a vocation for service, supportive, empathetic and friendly,” commented the young Medina.

He mentioned that the main need they discovered and that “they felt it was their responsibility to find a way to attend was the violation of the right to access information suffered by the people of Sucre.”

They consider that this need is generated by many factors, the most prominent being socioeconomic conditions, attacks on journalists and the media, closures of traditional media outlets such as television, radio and the written press (Sucre has been without newspapers since 2018), among others.

“Although this need is still latent, the most worrying thing is that the factors that generate it also remain. That is why our work to inform must be tireless. In turn, as we went down this path, we were able to discover another series of needs that also affect the quality of life of citizens and that considerably violate their human rights. For this reason, over time, we have adapted to the needs of the communities to contribute with in any way we can to the solution of their conflicts and thus contribute to the search for the development of Sucre,” he added.

Information, training, community organization, local and sustainable development are the main lines of action and what has allowed them to have a significant rapprochement with the people of Sucre, whom they characterize as “helpful, supportive and brave.”

Work Within Communities

Creemos Sucre, a window to combat the censorship imposed by Chavismo

Mr. Medina, who is a native of Los Teques, Miranda State, and a Sociology student at the Universidad de Oriente (UDO), points out that “working within communities has never been easy, since it involves a lot of operational, administrative and organizational work. However, within the roots of Sucre there has always been candor and the desire to help, so the receptivity of the citizens of each community in the state that we have visited has always been the best. When we visit them, they make us feel like one of them, reaching out to us with everything we need to carry out our activities.”

The pandemic was a challenge, because it forced them to cease their activities, while they found the mechanisms to protect their volunteers from Covid-19, but without failing to meet their commitments to the people of Sucre.

“The pandemic taught us the importance of adaptability. In the pre-pandemic stage, Creemos Sucre developed all its projects face-to-face, and for nothing in the world did we imagine that suddenly, without prior notice, we would have to migrate to total virtuality and adapt our projects and initiatives to digital platforms. That was a great challenge for us, since the first stage of a crisis is always total uncertainty,” he reflected.

“We did not know what to do. However, we were able to experience first-hand that the best way to learn is by doing. In that sense, this crisis that the pandemic meant for us ended up being a golden opportunity that, fortunately, we were able to and knew how to take advantage of,” he remarked.

According to Medina, thanks to the advantages offered by virtuality, they were able to increase their human team. In this way, it was possible to impact more communities in the state, going from influencing a single municipality in the pre-pandemic stage, to expanding its activities to four municipalities in the entity.

“All this generated an unimaginable growth in the organization, making us known in much of the state, generating even more projects and initiatives and benefiting more and more citizens,” added the president of Creemos Sucre.

Chavismo Prohibitions

Creemos Sucre, a window to combat the censorship imposed by Chavismo

Currently this NGO is not legally registered due to the restrictions imposed by Maduro’s regime. “One of the measures taken by the regime that has directly affected us is the registration of the organization, violating our right to freedom of association. Until today, unfortunately, Creemos Sucre has not been able to be legally registered because of the restrictions that limit the exercise of this right that we possess. Administrative Ruling No. 001-2021 for the Unified Registry of Obliged Subjects before the National Office against Organized Crime and the Financing of Terrorism (Oncdoft), attached to the Ministry of the Interior, Justice and Peace, published in Official Gazette No. 42,098 of March 30, 2021, is a direct attack on civil society organizations in Venezuela, and this was denounced at the time.”

This problem has not stopped them and, on the contrary, has motivated the creation of alliances that support their social work. “In our work to inform citizens, we have alliances with media outlets with great reach at the regional and national levels, such as “Prensa Oriente”, “Diario El Tiempo” and “La Patilla”, as well as allied journalists and info-citizens who represent an informative window for the communities of the Sucre state. Likewise, in terms of training, we have alliances with organizations such as “Fe y Alegría” and the “Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS)”, Medina specified.

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