Venezuela: US media intensifies anti-Chavez campaign

A PSUV campaign 'caravan' visits the district of Caricuao, near Caracas, September 16. Photo by Prensa Miraflores

As Venezuela’s September 26 National Assembly election time approaches, international media have increased negative coverage of the South American nation.

The bombardment of negative, false, distorted and manipulated news about Venezuela in US media has increased in volume and intensity during the last few days.

Venezuela is subjected to this every time an election nears. This international media campaign against the left-wing government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to have a clear and coordinated objective: removing the Chavez from power.

During the past eight years, those pushing for Chavez’s removal have promoted, and attempted to justify, coup d’etats, economic sabotage, terrorist acts, assassination attempts, electoral interventions, psychological warfare and an increase in US military presence in the region.

To achieve this objective — which every year seems attainable to the powers that be — millions of US taxpayer dollars are channeled by US agencies into political parties, campaigns, candidates and organisations that oppose Chavez.

International media do their part. With sensationalist headlines and slanted reports, the mass media try to condition public opinion to believe any action or aggression against Venezuela would be necessary to remove the “evil” Chavez from power.

The Economist claimed “Venezuela has the worst economy in the world”, despite the fact the data cited by the financial magazine doesn’t match up. The New York Times, which sets the news standard for press worldwide, wrongly and dangerously headlined an August 22 article: “Venezuela is more lethal than Iraq.”

“Venezuela has the highest murder rate in the hemisphere”, claimed Newsweek on August 31. It falsely added: “Chavez’s popularity has fallen off a cliff.”

To these media, it doesn’t matter that Venezuela’s economy is actually on an upward rise, despite the world financial crisis, or that while Caracas certainly has crime, there is absolutely no comparison to the millions killed in Iraq at the hands of the US war machine.

And if a 54% popularity rate (from the latest national polls) means Chavez’s popularity has “fallen off a cliff”, well then, where does that put US President Barack Obama’s “best” rate at 47%?

Regarding coverage of Venezuela, television is even worse. In August, CNN International premiered a documentary titled “The Guardians of Chavez”, during which the international network falsely linked armed groups, criminals, terrorists and paramilitary forces with the Venezuelan government.

On September 13, just one-and-a-half weeks before the upcoming elections, CNN en Espanol’s primetime anchor, Patricia Janiot, conducted a live interview with an escaped convict from Venezuela, who just two years earlier had been tried and sentenced for terrorism.

In a clear example of yellow journalism, Janiot referred to the terrorist fugitive as a “political prisoner” and “student persecuted” by the Chavez government.

The escaped convict, Raul Diaz Pena, was sentenced in 2008 after a lengthy trial proved his guilt as one of the material authors of a terrorist attack with C4 explosives against the Colombian and Spanish embassies in Caracas in 2003.

Diaz Pena escaped from his Venezuelan jail cell on September 5. After arriving in a commercial airliner at the Miami International Airport, he easily entered the US, despite his status as a convicted terrorist and fugitive from justice.

On September 12, a week after his arrival in the US, CNN broadcast Diaz Pena in prime time.

“How many other students are political prisoners in Venezuela?”, Janiot asked of the terrorist. “Were you tortured?”, she inquired, with concern in her voice.

At the end of the interview, the stellar journalist of the US network wished the fugitive terrorist “good luck”, lauding him for escaping Chavez’s “terrible dictatorship”.

It’s a wonder that an international television network can conduct a live interview with a convicted, fugitive terrorist, and publicly wish him “good luck”, without a concern for any kind of consequence.

This type of irony is only possible when it comes to US media treatment of Venezuela.

According to CNN, in the case of Venezuela, terrorists are “political prisoners” and fugitives from justice are “immigrants”.

Two days after CNN’s offensive interview with Diaz Pena, Fox News headlined “Venezuela cancels roundtrip ‘Terror Flight’ to Syria and Iran”.

In the report, Fox News claimed Venezuela was one of “the world’s most terror-friendly nations”, along with Syria and Iran.

Regarding a legitimate flight route conducted by a Venezuelan airline, Conviasa, between Caracas-Damascus-Tehran, Fox falsely said: “The flight would carry illicit, lethal cargoes — such as explosives and possibly radioactive materials — and provide safe passage to terrorists, spies, weapons experts, senior Iranian intelligence operatives and members of both Hezbollah and Hamas.”

Fox’s source? “Western intelligence agencies, Venezuelan opposition figures and a former Iran-based spy for the CIA.”

Sounds convincing.

The dangerous and intentionally erroneous Fox News report, which attempted to link Venezuela to international terrorism (ironically while CNN welcomes Venezuelan terrorists), went further when it accused the Venezuelan government of facilitating terrorism against the United States.

The report said: “Reza Kahlili, the pseudonym for an Iranian who the CIA has confirmed once spied for the United States as a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, told these ‘special flights’ have been ‘instrumental in creating an Iranian dominated worldwide terror network that now reaches the United States.’

“He said the flights were used to expand Iran’s efforts to create a base of operations in the Western Hemisphere.”

Straight after this accusation, Fox News discredited its own report when a prime source admitted he didn’t really have any evidence to prove his claims: “Peter Brookes, a former Defense Department analyst and CIA employee now with the Heritage Foundation, said there was a steady stream of elite Al Quds officers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who were transported to Venezuela aboard the flight and took up positions in the Latin American country’s intelligence service.

“‘We can’t say for sure what is going on, but it is clandestine and secretive’, he said.”

In the final stretch before the September 26 legislative elections, media attacks against Venezuela are intensifying.

In an early September interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano summed up the media campaign against Venezuela: “There is a process of demonisation against Chavez …

“It’s scandalous that today, every minute, three million dollars are spent on military affairs. And that requires enemies.

“In the theater of good and evil, at times those concepts are inter-changeable, as with Saddam Hussein, a saint of the West who was converted into Satan.”

[Reprinted from]

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