These are the hours of immediate history.
As in Eastern Europe 13 years ago, the final defeat of dictatorial power in Venezuela came last night at the doors of its â€œcontrol roomsâ€ â€“ the TV stations.
On Monday night, the Venezuelan majority – unwilling to allow an upper-class economic coup dâ€™etat that poses dishonestly as a â€œstrikeâ€ to unseat its democratically elected government – took to the streets on a scale only seen once before in the nationâ€™s modern history; as they had last April, when they turned back a military coup dâ€™etat.
By early Tuesday morning the masses had every Commercial TV station in the nation surrounded. Their weapons were nonviolent and theatrical: pots, pans, fireworks and thousands of defiant but smiling faces.
Only at one TV installation in one of the outlying provinces – in Maracay State – did the public actually invade the facilities of a station that uses the public airwaves. Everywhere else, including at all the national TV stations in Caracas, immense restraint has been shown by the masses protesting outside of them.
The bluff of the former ruling class and its media â€“ that their top-down imposed sabotage of the Venezuelan economy and oil industry of the past week is somehow a popular â€œstrikeâ€ â€“ has been called. The â€œstrike leaders,â€ including corrupt oil union boss Carlos Ortega, have, in recent hours, disappeared from public view, abandoning their own supporters among the upper classes.
To make sure the coup plotters donâ€™t flee the country, the neighbors of SimÃ³n BolÃvar International Airport near Caracas have surrounded the airport as well.
The coup supporters, including the rogue ex-military officials from Aprilâ€™s attack on democracy who in recent days have called unsuccessfully for military coup, promptly abandoned Plaza Altamira last night, their physical base: the public stage they had occupied continuously for the past few weeks.
Coup Plotters’ Plaza Altamira is Empty
Confronted with the rising of the more massive and true majority of Venezuelan Civil Society, the rogue officers and the elite of Caracas have retreated, returning to their homes to watch the conflict on TV as fireworks boom in the air all around them.
Meanwhile, the ostensible â€œmediatorâ€ of the conflict has cynically called for government repression against the peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators assembled outside the TV stations. With that action, Cesar Gaviria has lost any illusory credibility in his aspiration to â€œmediateâ€ the Venezuelan conflict. He should return to Washington immediately.
Gaviria, Go Home
Gaviria, secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS), has just squandered whatever credibility the organization tenuously had as mediator in the Venezuelan conflict. He should leave Caracas immediately â€“ where he has become a destabilizing force against democracy and constitutional rule – and cease posing as a â€œmediatorâ€ of a power-struggle in which he is, now transparently, a partisan player.
On the very same day â€“ Monday, December 9th â€“ that the permanent council of the Organization of American States (OAS), representing all nations in AmÃ©rica, stated that â€œall the countries of the hemisphere ratify unanimously our support for Venezuelan democracy,â€ the OAS chairman, in Caracas, showed his contempt for that same Venezuelan democracy and the right of public assembly.
According to the French Press Agency (AFP), Gaviria â€œcondemnedâ€ peaceful demonstrations by the Venezuelan people outside of pro-coup TV stations Globovision, Venevision, and other commercial media corporations. The â€œnews coverageâ€ of those media companies in recent days has been at extreme levels of simulation and dishonesty even for them: the people have had enough. Terming the popular assemblies as â€œacts of intimidationâ€ against a â€œfree press,â€ Gaviria called upon the ChÃ¡vez government to use repression against the demonstrators.
â€œThe secretary general of the OAS is deeply worried about the acts of intimidation against the installations of some of the principal media of the country such as Radio Caracas Television, the De Armas Group, Venevision and Globovision,â€ Gaviria stated through an OAS press release from the posh Melia Hotel in Downtown Caracas, according to AFP.
Gaviria expressed his â€œcondemnation of such acts that put freedom of speech at serious risk,â€ reported AFP, and made â€œan urgent call upon the authorities to take immediate action to cease such threats. There can be no doubt that press freedom and free speech are two totally consistent elements with the existence of democratic principles.â€
But in calling for government action against the free speech rights of the people to peaceably assemble, Gaviria revealed the false discourse of Power regarding â€œpress freedom.â€ For Gaviria (and some corporate â€œpress freedomâ€ organizations), the libertinism of a paid press takes priority over the liberty of free speech by all the people. Nothing is more frightening to them â€“ nor more important for Authentic Democracy â€“ than a scenario in which the masses confront this eraâ€™s hijacking of the public airwaves by an elite minority.
For the past week, coup supporters demonstrated (as is their right, too) outside of Venezuela’s public TV station, without a single word of protest from Gaviria or any “press freedom” organization, and without any repression from the ChÃ¡vez government. Gaviria certainly did not term those demonstrations as “threats” or call on the State to “cease” them, as he did yesterday against the more popular demonstrations against media simulation.
The Venezuelan people have every right and duty to demonstrate outside of the commercial TV stations. Those media companies backed the failed April 2002 coup dâ€™etat in that country with a big lie that â€œChÃ¡vez Resignedâ€ when twice-elected President Hugo ChÃ¡vez had not. For the past week, those commercial TV stations have nakedly attempted to provoke another coup by inventing another big lie â€“ parroted by most of the U.S. and English-language press corps â€“ that a management imposed work lockout in some sectors is somehow a â€œgeneral strike.â€ Like â€œChÃ¡vez Resigned,â€ the use of the term â€œstrikeâ€ is this weekâ€™s big lie; repeated ad nauseam in the hope that it will be believed by the gullible among us.
The problem for the Big Liars is that the Venezuelan majority didnâ€™t buy it. The people â€“ having watched foreign companies like McDonaldâ€™s, Wendyâ€™s and British Petroleum lock their workers out for the imposed “strike” while the small neighborhood shopkeepers and businesses remained open â€“ have, in this month of December of 2002, showed the world that â€œthe big lie theoryâ€ for controlling public opinion no longer works.
Who the Hell is Cesar Gaviria?
Gaviria, the former Colombian president (1990-1994), was the chief beneficiary of the assassination of popular Colombian presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan, whose elimination cleared the way for the Gaviria presidency. Gaviria was the president who allowed paramilitary death squads to gain a foothold in Colombia. It was Gaviria who sold his nationâ€™s sovereignty to foreign powers and betrayed his own attorney general Gustavo de Greiff, after de Greiff had defied Washington by calling for drug legalization. And it was Gaviria who Washington later installed as secretary-general of the OAS in order to pave the way for Plan Colombia and military intervention in that country.
In recent days, Gaviria has ostensibly been in Venezuela as a â€œmediatorâ€ of the conflict between the oil-soaked oligarchy on one side and the supporters of the Constitutional democracy and the ChÃ¡vez government on the other.
Washingtonâ€™s discourse this week has been to feign support for democracy in Venezuela (while Spaniard intelligence operatives from Europe handled the hands-on dirty work of this most recent coup attempt) by making proclamations of support for Gaviria as mediator.
Now that Gaviria has called for State repression against the peaceful assemblies spreading like wildfire tonight throughout Venezuela, the true goals of this US-backed act of â€œMediation Theaterâ€ are obvious to all reasonable observers. This was an attempted coup in strike’s clothing.
Foreign powers and billionaire economic interests tried to fix the game by installing their own referee, Cesar Gaviria, in Caracas. But heâ€™s not an umpire or referee. Heâ€™s a player for the team that has now lost the contest, an advocate for destabilization and repression, and it is time for Gaviria to get the hell out of the stadium.
The only possible â€œmediatorâ€ of this dispute cannot be the commercial media nor foreign interests: It is, and will be, the Venezuelan people who now make the calls.