The Whistleblower's Conundrum


    Marathon runners hit the wall. Writers block. But how could the moral dilemma confronting many investigative bloggers / journalists be defined? The image of the whistleblower, of late, has been appropriated by Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. By revealing information they had been given conditional access to, both individuals broke the law. Now, they are living with the consequences. It is a daunting issue. A given person comes across confidential, secret, potentially explosive information. In civilised societies, where a semblance of rule of law is maintained, such a person could consider becoming a whistleblower and leak that information to journalists. There are consequences to be had, no doubt. Even in countries where supremacy of rule of law is undisputed, such persons' use of actionable information or intelligence carries dramatic consequences.

    Now let's move to the fate of whistleblowers from other countries. Alexander Litvinenko, Anna Politkovskaya, Sergei Magnitsky, Maria Elizabeth Macias Castro (to name but one example of the 31 people killed in Mexico since 2010 for reporting on organised crime), Jose Darío Arenas (the latest of 142 journalists killed in Colombia since 1977)... Meaning in developing countries, where rule of law is mostly absent, whistleblowing and/or reporting on organised crime carries a hefty price. Whereas in advanced societies exposing the powerful can lead to lengthy jail sentences, ostracism, job loss, etc., in developing countries it often leads to death. Unfortunately, the days of Mark Felt type of whistleblower seem to be well and truly over.

    Given that this site deals almost exclusively in exposing corruption in backward Latin American societies such as the Venezuelan, I find myself more and more troubled by the information I get from whistleblowers, which I can't use. For if I did people can get killed, myself included. This is a huge moral dilemma. On the one hand, revealing sensitive information could contribute perhaps to the definite unmasking of chavismo. Within Venezuelan borders it wouldn't have serious consequences for those exposed, as they have absolute control of State resources, police, judiciary, Congress, etc. Beyond its borders however, those exposed could find themselves at the receiving end of sanctions, like those imposed recently to a bunch of Putin's minions. On the other however, Tor, encrypted communications and technology can only get you so far, when what's revealed could only come from a few parties. Even the hapless chavistas can put two and two together and have whistleblowers, or their relatives, or recipients of sensitive information, killed. 

    That's not something I am prepared to do. There's a huge amount of collusion between regimes aligned with chavismo and organized crime. Similarly, there's what I call a "network of enablers", composed by bankers, lawyers, PR people, businesses, and governments willing to make a quick buck with chavismo, regardless of politics. Members of that network wouldn't hesitate in lending their substantial fire power, figuratively speaking, to crush anyone that stands between them and the possibility of making money in/with Venezuela.

    What to do then? Comments welcome.

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