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Venezuela is not even “authoritarian”, never mind a “dictatorship”


As I did near the end of May, I’ve taken detailed notes (see below) on an hour long newscast by Venevision – Venezuela’s most watched network for news – a network people in the country can watch for free. The biggest lie told over the past fifteen years about Venezuela is that its media is cowed by the government and that it has rendered the opposition voiceless. Big NGOs like Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, Amnesty International, and the Committee to Protect Journalists have, at various times, all propagated this lie – thereby giving cover to the dishonesty of the corporate media throughout the Americas and Europe. Trump can now openly attack Venezuela’s economy and even threaten military action because of the groundwork done over the past fifteen years by the international corporate media and various NGOs. Please also see a related brief blog post I just did about the death threat former Mexican president Vicente Fox just made against President Maduro.

Put aside your imperial privilege folks if you’re reading this from the United States, UK or Canada. Imagine how the mass media in your country reports if an extremely powerful foreign government threatens your government with military force and openly backs the opposition. Would it look anything like this news report below?

Venevision Newscast August 25, 2017

Just consider these highlights:

4:12 Reports that OAS head Luis Almagro said that the alternative “supreme court” named by Venezuela’s opposition will be investigating cases of corruption in Venezuela. Shows a tweet from Almagro on the screen announcing his meeting with the opposition appointed “judges”. Reports that the “judges” are trying to make contact with the recently fired Venezuela Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz to build their case.

15:14 Reports that opposition-controlled National Assembly (NA) appointed committee met to announce “preliminary findings” of its investigation into Odebrecht-related corruption. Again, Odebrecht is a huge Brazilian construction company whose operations throughout Latin America have produced scandals in many countries.  Reports that the allegations of the recently deposed Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz against “top government officials” were at the top of the committees agenda according to Venevision. Shows clip of opposition legislator Juan Guaido saying that

“there are 22 billion dollars involved in these contracts. Listen to that again  – 22 billion – more than double Venezuela’s international reserves, enough to pay all the commercial debt the country has”.

Reports that the committee will be getting information from Luisa Ortega Diaz to move its investigations forward.

Then shows clip of another opposition legislator, Jose Trujillo, demanding that Maduro’s government accept international aid.

Then shows clip of another opposition legislator, Alfonso Marquina, saying that government exchange controls have generated the black market in dollars.

22:00 Reports that Pan American Health Organization says that there are 447 suspected cases of diphtheria in 17 Venezuelan states of which 324 were registered in 2016 and another 123 this year. Gives state by state tallies. Says that this has not been reported by the Venezuelan government.

39:42 Reports that Venezuelan professional journalist group, CNP, “celebrates” the release of “social communicator” Carlos Julio Rojas, who was held in a military prison for 45 days.  Clip of Edgar Cardenas “lamenting” that release was not unconditional and said that in their opinion it was an “arbitrary detention”. Then shows clip of Rojas’ lawyer saying that “military courts cannot be used against any civilian in Venezuela for any crime”.  Ends with reporter saying that the CNP demands that Venezuelan government respect the right of journalists.

[Venevision gives no details about what Rojas, a member of the far right party, Vente Venezuela, was actually accused of and leaves the impression that he was simply arrested for doing journalism on line. In fact, he was accused of being in possession of weapons and vandalizing property during violent protests. The government did use military courts to prosecute alleged violent protesters after the former Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, turned against the government. However, since the ANC fired her, numerous people like Rojas, who were subjected to military justice, have had their cases transferred to civilian courts. The ANC has in fact ordered an end to that practice of using military courts against violent protesters over a week ago – which Venevision did not mention in this report. It is striking that despite the foreign and domestic threats Venezuela is subjected to, aggravated by a major economic crisis, Venevision is able to put out such a one-sided report about Rojas. ]

FULL SUMMARY

First minute summarizes top stories:

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza meets with UN Secretary General

Official Protest from Paraguay against remarks made by Arreaza

Minister of Defence Padrino Lopez says he submitted suggestions the constituent assembly (ANC) that was on elected on July 30.

The opposition coalition MUD registers candidates for its internal primaries ahead of October’s regional elections.

One million to participate in joint civilian-military exercises over the weekend.

2:26 Reports that Paraguay’s foreign minister send official note of protest to Venezuelan Foreign Minister Arreaza over Arreaza’s remarks that mentioned Paraguay. Shows a tweet from Arreaza referring to Paraguay’s president and Brazil’s as “political dinosaurs”.  Very briefly flashes tweet from Arreaza saying that both presidents owe their positions to coups. Reports that Paraguay’s response was that its president’s election was ratified by OAS and EU observers and accepted by political parties; that Arreaza’s remarks were “untrue” and “baseless”; and that a “democratic solution” to Venezuela’s crisis might still be “possible”.  Venevision said nothing about the 2012 parliamentary coup in Paraguay (for which it was suspended from Mercosur and UNASUR) that ousted President Fernando Lugo and paved the way for its current president’s rise to power. It gives the last word in this exchange to Paraguay.

3:12 Elaborates on Venezuela’s Minister of Defence saying that revisions to constitution made by ANC should strengthen Venezuela’s capacity for self-defence given all the threats it has received – and that specific suggestions were made to the ANC.

4:12 Reports that OAS head Luis Almagro said that the alternative “supreme court” named by Venezuela’s opposition will be investigating cases of corruption in Venezuela. Shows a tweet from Almagro on the screen announcing his meeting with the opposition appointed “judges”. Reports that the “judges” are trying to make contact with the recently fired Venezuela Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz to build their case.

4:40 Reports that President Maduro supports military-civic exercises and his criticism of opposition leaders who met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Miami whom he called “corrupt” and “terrorists”

6:54 Reports that the opposition coalition MUD is about to announce results of its registration process for its internal primaries ahead of October’s regional elections.

8:15 Reports that in Colombia a businessman has been sentenced to 37 months of house arrest in one of the many cases of corruption stemming from dealings with the Brazilian corporation Odebrecht.

8:53 Reports that US President Trump used an executive order to impose more financial sanctions on Venezuela.

15:14 Reports that opposition-controlled National Assembly (NA) appointed committee met to announce “preliminary findings” of its investigation into Odebrecht-related corruption. Again, Odebrecht is a huge Brazilian construction company whose operations throughout Latin America have produced scandals in many countries.  Reports that the allegations of the recently deposed Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz against “top government officials” were at the top of the committees agenda according to Venevision. Shows clip of opposition legislator Juan Guaido saying that

“there are 22 billion dollars involved in these contracts. Listen to that again  – 22 billion – more than double Venezuela’s international reserves, enough to pay all the commercial debt the country has”.

Reports that the committee will be getting information from Luisa Ortega Diaz to move its investigations forward.

Then shows clip of another opposition legislator, Jose Trujillo, demanding that Maduro’s government accept international aid.

Then shows clip of another opposition legislator, Alfonso Marquina, saying that government exchange controls have generated the black market in dollars.

17:06 Shows clip of pro-government legislator, Dario Vivas talking about upcoming civic-military exercises.

18:22 Reports on a murder. A burned dismembered corpse was found.  No clear motive established.

19:35-21:30 Report on health featuring various clips with a doctor.

22:00 Reports that Pan American Health Organization says that there are 447 suspected cases of diphtheria in 17 Venezuelan states of which 324 were registered in 2016 and another 123 this year. Gives state by state tallies. Says that this has not been reported by the Venezuelan government.

23:20 Brief reports various international stories: Meeting EU regarding terrorism. Three arrests in Ecuador related to Odebrecht scandals. Eighteen fatalities in Russia after a bus fell into the Black Sea. Twenty three were rescued. Three missing. Notes the threat posed to USA from Hurricane Harvey.  Head of Samsung sentenced to prison for corruption in South Korea. Three missing people found in Switzerland. Reports that US State Department “confirms” that seventeen its staff in Cuba appeared to have been made ill by “mysterious” “acoustic attacks”. China rejects Japanese sanctions on its companies.

27:43 During commercial break an “urgent request” is made for a blood donation of any type for a person named Yudelis Leon.

28:05 More about the civic-military exercise on the weekend. A general makes clear that exercises are in response to military threats made by the United States – and possible provocations on the Colombia-Venezuelan border.

29:44 – 35:00 Celebrity garbage plus a music video.

35:17-39:15 Sports

39:42 Reports that Venezuelan professional journalist group, CNP, “celebrates” the release of “social communicator” Carlos Julio Rojas, who was held in a military prison for 45 days.  Clip of Edgar Cardenas “lamenting” that release was not unconditional and said that in their opinion it was an “arbitrary detention”. Then shows clip of Rojas’ lawyer saying that “military courts cannot be used against any civilian in Venezuela for any crime”.  Ends with reporter saying that the CNP demands that Venezuelan government respect the right of journalists.

[Venevision gives no details about what Rojas, a member of the far right party, Vente Venezuela, was actually accused of and leaves the impression that he was simply arrested for doing journalism on line. In fact, he was accused of being in possession of weapons and vandalizing property during violent protests. The government did use military courts to prosecute alleged violent protesters after the former Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, turned against the government. However, since the ANC fired her, numerous people like Rojas, who were subjected to military justice, have had their cases transferred to civilian courts. The ANC has in fact ordered an end to that practice of using military courts against violent protesters over a week ago – which Venevision did not mention in this report. It is striking that despite the foreign and domestic threats Venezuela is subjected to, aggravated by a major economic crisis, Venevision is able to put out such a one-sided report about Rojas. ]

41:11 As part of the commercial break, another urgent appeals – this time for specific medicines but it is not indicated for whom exactly.

41:42 Another urgent appeal – this time for a patient named Emilda Pacheco who needs specific medicines.

42:15-49:49 Interview with a fashion designer. Notes that Venezuelan designers have been able – with difficulty – to get the materials they need.

49:54 Report about heavy rains in Zulia.

51:53 Reports on the rescue of two young boys who got lost in a national park

2 Comments

  1. Neddy Merrill September 5, 2017 2:24 am 

    “There is a total freedom of criticism in the USSR.” Sartre, 1954.

    Venezuela is not even “authoritarian”, never mind a “dictatorship.” Joe E., 2017

    Sartre eventually had to eat his words Joe. Will you?

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