Is there evidence of regular, active public debate on issues of defence? If yes, does the government participate in this debate?
6a. Public debate
Venezuela score: 25/100
Outside government, there is no or extremely limited public debate among academia, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues.
Outside government, there is occasional public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. Debate also addresses issues superficially, rather than persisting through in-depth and regular discussion.
Outside government, there is regular public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. However, debate often addresses issues superficially, rather than persisting through in-depth and regular discussion.
Outside government, there is occasional public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. However, when debate occurs, it addresses high priority issues with intensity and in-depth discussion.
Outside government, there is regular public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. Debate persists on high priority issues over a period of time, rather than being superficially addressed.
Short-term issues relating to security crises, or events intercepted and repressed by security forces, are the subject of public debate among academics and military experts consulted by the national and international press. However, this debate is circumstantial – limited in the scope of available information and in terms of the participation of various sectors.
Given the degree of opacity in defence policy and in management of the security sector [1, 2], the little information that generates public debate is that which indicates a security threat or the use of excessive force. As part of announcements about security operations for the restoration of internal order, operations such as the Zamora Plan or the PLO generated discussions in which experts, social organisations, and academics spoke about their implementation [3, 4]. Likewise, in the current political crisis, the debate on the internal conditions of the FANB has comprised discussion not only in the national but also the international press [5, 6, 7]. However, these debates react to critical situations and are superficial in view of the fact that their knowledge of the situation is reliant upon unofficial sources that breed a high level of mistrust. In addition, political polarisation in Venezuela has restricted the possibility of inclusive participation in debate.
Although wider society is involved in public debates on a periodic basis, this is typically in response to emergency situations, and involves no substantial or long-term discussions on the government’s security decisions. Part of the superficiality of the debate is due to the country’s social and economic situation, which does not foster participation and keeps citizens constantly mobilised in order to obtain basic goods and services, thus distracting attention away from the debate on defence issues and from internal politics in general .
 Transparencia Venezuela, “Opacidad: La regla impuesta desde el alto Gobierno. Informe de Corrupción 2017” (“Opacity: The rule imposed by high government. Corruption Report 2017”), 2017, https://transparencia.org.ve/project/opacidad-la-regla-impuesta-desde-alto-gobierno/.
 Acceso a la Justicia, “La caja negra militar: el TSJ elimina el control sobre empresas militares” (“The military black box: the Supreme Court eliminates oversight over military companies”), 27 January 2017, https://www.accesoalajusticia.org/la-caja-negra-militar-el-tsj-elimina-el-control-sobre-las-empresas-militares-2/.
 del Rincón, F., “San Miguel: Plan Zamora es un marco propicio para crímines atroces en Venezuela” (San Miguel: the Zamora Plan is a conducive environment for atrocity crimes in Venezuela”), 18 May 2017, https://cnnespanol.cnn.com/video/cnnee-conclusiones-intvw-rocio-san-miguel-que-es-plan-zamora-venezuela/.
 Conectas, “OPL: La máscara de terror oficial en Venezuela” (“OPL: The official mask of terror in Venezuela”), 2016, https://www.connectas.org/especiales/olp/.
 Materano, J., “El hambre dispara contra las FANB” (“Hunger attacks the FANB”), Crónica Uno, 8 April 2018, http://cronica.uno/el-hambre-dispara-contra-fanb/.
 Notimérica, “¿Cuáles son las razones de los militares para desertar de Venezuela?” (“What are soldiers’ reasons for deserting Venezuela?”), 25 February 2019, https://www.notimerica.com/politica/noticia-cuales-son-razones-militares-desertar-venezuela-20190225142901.html.
 Casey, N., “¿Maduro o Guaidó? Las fuerzas armadas de Venezuela debaten a quién respaldar” (“Maduro or Guaidó? Venezuela’s Armed Forces discuss who to endorse”), The New York Times, 25 January 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/es/2019/01/25/militares-guaido-maduro-venezuela/.
 Interviewee 1: Journalist with expertise in the Venezuelan defence sector, 25 April 2019, phone interview, Caracas.
6b. Government engagement in public discourse
Venezuela score: 0/100
There is no government engagement in public discourse about defence issues or official communications contain no meaningful information.
Where communication does occur, it is likely to be one-way: officials may provide some information but may not answer public questions.
The government engages in discussion with the public about defence issues through open forums, an active website, or at media briefings. However this does not happen regularly, or may exclude very important issues that the government chooses to avoid.
The government engages in regular discussion with the public about defence issues through open forums, an active website, or at media briefings.
The government engages in regular debate with academia, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues in collaborative ways. The government co-organises discussions with independent think tanks or civil society organisations, or through joint media briefings.
The government does not respond to public criticism, neither participating in discussions nor addressing criticised issues in its press releases. Officials in the Maduro regime have not participated in public debates and their releases are shared through media that have expressed support for the regime. Even statements that are given to international media – by Maduro or other members of the administration – have been criticised for the control of what information may or may not be published, as well as for the superficiality of the information offered [1, 2].
In terms of defence and security, there is no evidence of government engagement with or direct response to social organisations’ complaints about irregularities in the management of the armed forces [3, 4].
 Espacio Público, “2018: Situación de la libertad de expresión e información en Venezuela” (“2018: the state of freedom of expression and information in Venezuela”),12 February 2019, http://espaciopublico.ong/2018-situacion-de-la-libertad-de-expresion-e-informacion-en-venezuela/#.XO2zby3SGTc.
 Reporteros Sin Fronteras, “Clasificación Mundial de la Libertad de Prensa” (“World Press Freedom Index”), 2019, https://rsf.org/es/clasificacion-mundial-de-la-libertad-de-prensa-2019-la-mecanica-del-miedo.
 Barráez, S., “Los documentos del General Padrino” (“General Padrino’s documents”), El Estímulo, 6 March 2017, https://elestimulo.com/los-documentos-del-general-padrino/.
 Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, “Padrino López lee comunicado del Alto Mando Militar rechazando el acuerdo de la AN” (“Padrino López reads a statement from the Military High Command rejecting the AN agreement”), Alba Ciudad, 25 October 2016, https://albaciudad.org/2016/10/padrino-lopez-lee-comunicado-del-alto-mando-militar-respondiendo-al-acuerdo-de-la-an/.
Compare scores by country
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|Country||6a. Public debate||6b. Government engagement in public discourse|
|Albania||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Algeria||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Angola||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Argentina||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Armenia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Australia||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Azerbaijan||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Bahrain||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Bangladesh||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Belgium||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Botswana||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Brazil||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Burkina Faso||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Cameroon||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Canada||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Chile||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|China||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Colombia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Cote d'Ivoire||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Denmark||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Egypt||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Estonia||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Finland||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|France||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Germany||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Ghana||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Greece||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Hungary||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|India||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Indonesia||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Iran||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Iraq||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Israel||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Italy||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Japan||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Jordan||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Kenya||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Kosovo||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Kuwait||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Latvia||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Lebanon||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Lithuania||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Malaysia||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Mali||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Mexico||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Montenegro||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Morocco||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Myanmar||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Netherlands||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|New Zealand||75 / 100||100 / 100|
|Niger||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Nigeria||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|North Macedonia||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Norway||75 / 100||100 / 100|
|Oman||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Palestine||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Philippines||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Poland||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Portugal||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Qatar||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Russia||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Saudi Arabia||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Serbia||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Singapore||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|South Africa||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|South Korea||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|South Sudan||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Spain||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Sudan||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Sweden||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Switzerland||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Taiwan||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Tanzania||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Thailand||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Tunisia||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Turkey||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Uganda||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Ukraine||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|United Arab Emirates||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|United Kingdom||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|United States||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Venezuela||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Zimbabwe||100 / 100||0 / 100|