"We're talking about a threat that every journalist that works in this nation has to face," says Luis. Journalists have to trust their sources inside the government to give them a heads-up if they're being watched, and have to "change [their phone number] ASAP if they want to solve this problem at least for a couple of months, 'til the Intelligence Service find[s] out." Until then, it's a treacherous verbal dance to avoid saying anything that could be used against you.
"When I knew that I was tapped, I didn't [have] money to buy another cell phone," said "Alberto," a radio host. "So I explained what was happening to [as] many contacts [as] I could." That meant calling them up and figuring out how to say "The government is listening" without actually saying that, which sounds easy until you have to do it. Go ahead, try it right now. Watch how fast it becomes a particularly gritty episode of Frasier.
The Photographer/Wiki Commons
Frasier: Caracas has less opera, more fires.
And this is a game with no margin for error whatsoever. "What happened was that a friend called me while he was drunk." Alberto said. "He asked me if I remembered the time when we sniffed cocaine at my ex-girlfriend's house. I said I didn't and hung up, but the next day, I received another phone call in which I was told to not publish anything related to the government, or I would be charged with drug trafficking."