One of the lies most relentlessly peddled about Venezuela by the international press is that the opposition is voiceless. It is certainly true that the government, since the 2002 coup that briefly deposed it, has aggressively worked to alter the media landscape. It has gone from one where an oligarch owned media had so much power that it was able to lead a coup, to the situation today – one in which the opposition still has an edge if you look closely at a detailed study of the TV media by the Carter Center, but nothing like the advantage it had a decade ago.
Careful media studies aside, the ease with which the opposition, in May, spread the Mario Silva recording that it somehow acquired throughout the Venezuelan media dramatically illustrates how very far from voiceless it is.
Disgust with the private media felt by a huge segment of the population has also driven change over the past decade, not simply government action.
The private media didn’t just spearhead a coup in 2002. It also supported massive economic sabotage. The international press has used apocalyptic language to describe Venezuela’s current economic woes despite the fact that the economy has grown in 2013. In contrast, during the private media’s onslaught in the early 2000s, Venezuela’s economy contracted by 30% under the combined impact of the coup and economic sabotage. This media led destruction earned press barons and journalists tremendous hostility from millions of people it seriously hurt.
This AP article is typical in the way it depicts the Venezuela government “tightening its grip” on the media. However, a very curious sentence appears in this report:
“Cadena Capriles' founding owners aren't directly related to the politician who shares their last name.”
In other words, the founders of Venezuela’s largest print media conglomerate are related to Henrique Capriles, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition. The author of this article, Fabio Sanchez, is forced to mention that embarrassing fact. It would be hard, even for AP, to say nothing at all about why this major media conglomerate shares its name with the leader of the opposition. Even casual and not very well informed readers might be left scratching their heads. Sanchez could also not truthfully write “no relation”, so she wrote “not directly related” in a feeble attempt to suppress a small clue as to real nature of the Venezuelan media.