Venezuela: Maduro survives assassination attempt — but journalism doesn’t

Screenshot via Venezuela Analysis.

Venezuela was rocked on August 5 by an attempt to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro during a public event, using drones armed with explosives.

But as more details of the attack became available, mainstream media coverage sought to sow doubt on the events, using words such as “apparent” or “alleged”. It focused on the government using this “alleged” event to step up repression.

Although there are plenty of examples, let’s take our personal champion of dishonest Venezuelan coverage – the Guardian.

A quick search of Guardian headlines with “assassination attempt” shows that a qualifier such as “alleged” is never used, be it Jacques ChiracGuinea’s president, or even Saddam Hussein’s deputy. Nobody had their assassination attempts questioned as a hoax to be used as a pretext to stamp out dissent.

Yet this is the Guardian’s opening paragraph: “Venezuela’s opposition has warned that President Nicolas Maduro may launch a political crackdown after he accused adversaries of attempting to assassinate him with drones loaded with explosives on Saturday.”

Remarkably, it is the Venezuelan opposition that takes precedence in an article about an assassination attempt on Maduro. This would be akin to a report on the 9/11 terrorist attacks opening with “Al-Qaeda warns of increased US involvement in the Middle East”.

Then there is the usual trick of encapsulating the events under “Maduro said”, so that all the previous work of smearing Maduro can be used to discredit this version.

Several videos and testimonies, some even mentioned by the Guardian piece, corroborate the Venezuelan government’s version of events.

Two drones armed with explosives targeted the stage where Maduro was giving a speech on the 81st anniversary of the National Guard.

One of them, because of signal jammers, crashed in front of a nearby building. Residents testified to this, and some of them captured the events on film, thus demolishing the nonsensical thesis that the explosion had been due to a gas leak.

second drone detonated closer to the stage, resulting in seven injured officers while bodyguards quickly moved to shield Maduro.

Despite all this evidence the Guardian insists that “exactly what happened still remained unclear on Sunday”.

We are told that “no one has claimed responsibility for the alleged assassination attempt”, although the group Soldados de Franelas (Soldiers in T-shirts), whose members are unknown, claimed this attempt as a victory. They later published a statement read out by notorious anti-government journalist Patricia Poleo in Miami.

The Guardian then attempts to find victims and mentions six people arrested, two of which the Guardian says had previously taken part in “street protests”.

According to interior minister Nestor Reverol, one of those detained had been involved in the 2014 guarimbas, which for the Guardian were a little more than “street protests”. They actually involved violent barricades, shooting at bystanders, beheading motorcyclists and more.

The second detainee was sought after an attack on the Paramacay military barracks last year. We can all agree that calling this a “street protest” is a bit of a stretch, even for the Guardian.

Then we are treated to two paragraphs replete with distortions.

There is a mention of the economic crisis, which is fair enough, but which refers to an International Monetary Fund prediction of a 1,000,000% inflation rate that is utter nonsense.

Next we read that Maduro “replaced” former president Hugo Chavez (he was elected); that he repressed anti-government demonstrations leaving 100 dead (opposition violence was responsible for most of the casualties); and that he sidelined the opposition-led parliament (they are in contempt of court) by installing a body stacked with loyalists (there were elections to the National Constituent Assembly in which more than 8 million people voted for 6120 candidates running for 545 seats).

To top it all off, there is a mention of last year’s terrorist attack by Oscar Perez, who hijacked a helicopter and went on to throw grenades and open fire on public buildings. It is priceless that the Guardian should bring this up, because back then it also ran with ludicrous theories it might have been a government stunt.

Perez’s repeated calls for a coup and his appearance at an anti-government protest days later were not enough for the Guardian to clarify that he actually was an anti-government terrorist.

All in all, it seems like the US empire, its allies and the stenographers in the mainstream media are trying to play a game in which they never lose.

They constantly call for a coup, even report on foiled attempts, but when something actually takes place, the reaction is along the lines of “the US/Colombia/Venezuelan opposition had nothing to do with this coup/assassination attempt which maybe did not even happen”.

Had it succeeded, as the 2002 coup briefly did, they would be celebrating “a victory for freedom”.

Since it failed, it was all in the dictator’s imagination, but the crackdown is certain — all of which will then justify people wanting to kill Maduro or attempt a coup, and the cycle starts again.

The reactionary plotting against the Bolivarian Revolution by the Venezuelan capitalists, their northern masters and the latter’s regional puppets only now and then materialises into actual operations or terrorist attacks.

But there is a constant set of background assumptions being created to endorse and provide cover for these actions, and this is achieved through the Western media’s systematically dishonest coverage of Venezuela.

[Abridged from Venezuela Analysis.]