Steve Ellner

The slant of Venezuela’s private media and the international media on what is happening in Venezuela is clear: The government is responsible for the violence.

In the first place, it is said, government-ordered gunmen are shooting at peaceful demonstrators and the violence generated by the opposition is just a response to the brutality of police and military forces.

But there is considerable evidence that shows the violence, including that of unidentified motorcyclists against demonstrators, is being carried out by the opposition. Consider the following:

History repeats itself. The time-worn tactic of the dominant class that controls the spread of information is to provoke violence and then blame it on the enemy, usually those who struggle for change.

Nero did it when he burned down much of Rome and blamed it on the Christians. Similarly, US newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst used the sinking of the USS Maine in 1898 to create war fervour that led to war with Spain.

The illness of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has created uncertainty over the future direction of his government, and specifically its commitment to revolutionary change and socialism.

Throughout the 14 years of his presidency, the key to Chavez’s political success was the constant deepening of the process of change, which invigorated the rank-and-file of his movement.

On September 28, a British Guardian reporter who interviewed me by phone published an article on the September 26 Venezuelan National Assembly elections titled “Opposition Gains Loosen Chavez’s Grip on Power.”

According to the article, I said the electoral results “suggested the government should try to modify its radical discourse and accommodate the opposition, as long as it accepted the government’s legitimacy”.

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