Venezuela Crisis Growing as US Media Deflects

I noticed last week news that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed to have thwarted a coup that had planning help from the US.  I wondered how much news coverage it would get.  It has gotten some news coverage, especially since the arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma on February 19th and the killing of a 14 year old protester on Tuesday the 24th.  So there is news about Venezuela.  What kind of coverage is another story entirely.  One aspect of the failed coup attempt, besides any credibility lent to the claims by American media, is that one of the targets was supposed to be the headquarters of TeleSUR, something that you think media would imagine to be an important story, the targeting of another news media outlet.

CounterPunch reports (emphasis mine)

The bombing of the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly, Telesur TV network, the Defense Ministry and other Caracas sites was to take place February 12, the one-year anniversary of violent anti-government attacks known as “guarimbas,” which caused 43 deaths. A Tucano EMB 312 bomber would have been flown by renegade Air Force First Lieutenant José Antich Zapata to destroy the targeted sites.

continued

Why was Telesur one of the targets to be bombed?

In 2002, when a fascist coup by a sector of the military and corporate opposition overthrew President Hugo Chavez from April 11 to 13, Venezuela’s revolution was new and a people’s media had not yet developed.

In the critical hours of the massive and spontaneous popular mobilization to demand Chavez’s release and return as president, the monopoly corporate media completely blocked out the news. It was clear that the Bolivarian process needed a revolutionary media to transmit vital information to the population.

Since then, dozens of community and television stations have been established; corporate violators of the new Communications Law have had their licenses revoked.

The Telesur network – promoting the integration of Latin America – was proposed 10 years ago by Chavez. It has become a vital conveyor of national and international information with a solid anti-imperialist prospective.

It provided uncensored live coverage and exposed the terror bombing by NATO/U.S. bombing of Libya.

Like the brutal bombing of Serbia’s national TV station, killing scores of journalists who courageously covered the criminal NATO/U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the planned bombing of Telesur was part of the plan to destroy the Revolution and install a fascist coup.

Guardian article on NATO bombing Serbian TV in 1999

Nato leaders yesterday scrambled to justify the bombing of Serbia’s state television station in an attack which killed a number of civilian workers and marked a further widening in the scope of targets now considered legitimate.

The attack on the building in the centre of Belgrade – which contradicted an apparent assurance by Nato this month that only transmitters would be hit – was condemned by international journalists’ organisations, representing both employers and unions.

continued

The state-run news agency Tanjug said about 150 people were inside the building at the time of the attack. The minister without portfolio, Goran Matic, said that in addition to 10 dead and 18 wounded, at least 20 people were feared buried in the rubble.

Last June in my introduction to this blog, I wrote that I chose the name “Biased Reporter” in order to show that everyone is biased, and that includes Democracy Now!, a truly invaluable independent daily news broadcast, which focuses on stories that few television and radio shows will consider important.


On February 23rd Democracy Now! had this headline, when the story goes back to the 12th.

U.S. Mulls New “Tools” to Pressure Venezuela after Arrest of Opposition Mayor

The United States says it is mulling new punitive actions against Venezuela following the arrest of an opposition mayor. The mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, was detained last week and indicted for what the government called a U.S.-backed coup plot. Rejecting Venezuela’s claims, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the United States is not interfering in Venezuela, but then said it is considering new actions to steer its government in a different direction.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest: “The fact is the Venezuelan government should stop trying to blame the United States and other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. The Venezuelan government actually needs to deal with the grave situation that it faces. The United States is not promoting unrest in Venezuela, nor are we attempting to undermine Venezuela’s economy or its government. Well, I can tell you that the Treasury Department and the State Department are obviously closely monitoring this situation and are considering tools that may be available that could better steer the Venezuelan government in the direction that they believe they should be headed.”
In response, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said the United States has no right to change Venezuelan policies, and appealed for global solidarity.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro: “I call on all the brother governments of Latin America and the Caribbean. I am calling on all our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is the moment for solidarity with the Venezuelan people, who are being attacked by the government of the United States. No one should stay quiet in the face of this aggression. What are the ‘tools’ that are being considered by the (U.S.) Treasury Department? More economic war. What are the ‘tools’ that are being considered to move us in any direction they should please? Who said that the government of the United States has any authority to move Venezuela in any way in this world?”

But the part where Josh Earnest discusses tools that may be available that could better steer the Venezuelan governmentis in response to a question on sanctions against Venezuela which was cut out of Democracy Now’s headline.

Here is the full quote 

The U.S. government has already taken some actions against Venezuelan individuals with some sanctions.  Are you considering any other action?  Are you seeking — maybe seeking help from other countries in the hemisphere, like Brazil, that could put pressure on the government of Nicolás Maduro?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I can tell you that the Treasury Department and the State Department are obviously closely monitoring this situation and are considering tools that may be available that could better steer the Venezuelan government in the direction that they believe they should be headed.  That obviously means that we’re continuing to engage other countries in the region in talking about operating in coordinated fashion as we deal with the situation there.

But ultimately, it’s going to be the responsibility of the government of Venezuela to stop blaming other countries, including the United States, for their problems, and start tackling them head-on.

I also think that claims of a US backed coup deserve an interview with experts on the ground, and earlier that 11 days later, but I still hope that Democracy Now will cover the story as well as they have other important topics, including extensive coverage of the US-backed coup in Honduras ousting President Manuel Zelaya in 2009.

When I wrote my blog post I found news coverage of how US sanctions included language that steered money to influence opposition groups against Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro

Fox News Latino said

Bipartisan Senate Legislation Seeks Funding For Anti-Government Protesters In Venezuela (emphasis mine)

Senators Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio introduced a bill aimed at supporting anti-government groups in Venezuela.

The bill by Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Rubio, a Florida Republican, authorizes $15 million for help “to defend human rights, support democratic civil society organizations, [and] assist independent media,” according to a statement by Rubio’s office.

Al Jazeera America published an article (a guest opinion piece but full of facts) that explained Obama’s hypocrisy on sanctioning Venezuela instead of Honduras and arguing for Obama’s new diplomatic relations with Cuba to be extended to Venezuela instead of punishing sanctions when the government was not responsible for the violence cited in the sanctions.

The Congressional Budget Office wrote that the bill

would authorize the appropriation of $15 million in 2015 to promote civil society in Venezuela. In recent years, the Administration has spent roughly $5 million each year for similar activities in Venezuela. Other provisions of S. 2142 would increase administrative costs of the Departments of State and the Treasury. Based on information from the Administration, CBO estimates the departments would require additional appropriations of $1 million a year in 2015 and 2016, growing to $2 million a year thereafter.

Human Rights Watch, reporting about attacks since February 12th by protesters and against protesters in it’s report writes elsewhere in the article about the United States’ sanctions against Venezuela

In December, the United States imposed targeted sanctions on Venezuelan military and civilian officials allegedly responsible for human rights violations during the protests. The sanctions include refusing or cancelling visas for certain officials and freezing their personal assets in the US.

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) rejected the sanctions, contending that they violate the “principle of non-intervention” in Venezuela. Similarly, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) criticized the sanctions and urged the international community to refrain from “intervening, directly or indirectly, in internal affairs” of other states.

FAIR, another news outlet that does a great job explaining what’s wrong with American news coverage, has yet to discuss Venezuela on their weekly show CounterSpin, but they did have an article about a New York Times op-ed that lied about Venezuela’s media.

Krauze begins by claiming that the Venezuelan government, first under President Hugo Chávez and then his successor Nicolás Maduro, has taken control over the media.

FAIR normally does a great job and they have even in the past focused on skewed coverage of Mexico’s economic “reforms” that American media loves.

The New York Times has clearly not listened to FAIR, now writing about Conspiracy “claims” in Venezuela that President Maduro

ramble for hours about an international right-wing conspiracy to oust him, it’s clear that he would use any fabricated pretext to jail opposition leaders and crack down on dissent.

 continued

With so many of the strongest opposition leaders facing charges, this obviously will not be an easy feat. But if the international community continues to champion their cause, and insist that a fair election is held, it might be possible.

The international community is not coming to the defense of right wring opposition to a democratically elected Left wing leader in Venezuela.  To the contrary there was a call from politicians in Britain for the international community to condemn the US-backed coup

Sections of Venezuela’s rightwing opposition have previously used violent and anti-democratic means to destabilise and seek to overthrow the country’s elected government, most notably the temporarily successful coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002, and many rightwing opposition groups in Venezuela committed to overthrowing the elected, constitutional government continue to receive funding from the US. We call on all governments internationally to respect Venezuela’s elected, constitutional government and condemn this latest coup attempt.

Looking for actual news about what is happening in Venezuela I found this in my many RSS feeds

Venezuela’s role in warming Cuba – US relations

A lot of people have been getting credit for the US-Cuba breakthrough today, from Raul Castro and Barack Obama to Pope Francis and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

But there’s someone else who deserves credit for taking Cuban-US diplomatic relations to the brink of normalization, though he probably doesn’t want it: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

While the article says little beyond that, the subtitle explains their argument saying that since the fall of the Soviet Union

Cuba had relied on Venezuela to prop up its economy. But with that support uncertain, the Castro brothers appear to have decided to come in from the cold.

From what I have seen CounterPunch has the best news on Venezuela
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/24/the-coup-detat-attempt-in-venezuela/

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/25/the-foiling-of-a-coup-plot/

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/02/venezuela-a-coup-in-real-time/

CounterPunch links to an article that reports to have the framework for the new coup government if it had succeeded (translated from the Spanish by Google Translate)

On February 12, 2015, President Nicolas Maduro unveiled a coup in process had been dismantled and several Air Force officers had been arrested after planning to attack numerous civilian and military targets in Caracas and trigger events that would lead a “transitional government”. He alleged that a document entitled ” Called to the Venezuelans to a national agreement for the Transition “, which was to be published in the newspaper El Nacional and also found on the websites of Vente Venezuela , Popular Will , Antonio Ledezma , Citizen Congress and other right-wing parties would serve as a “signal” to start these events. The document is signed by Maria Corina Machado, Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo López, and describes a number of shares of neoliberal character, which would trigger a supposed “transition” which is not reflected in the Constitution has started.

Then there is the chart of what the document says and what they say it means

Here is what CounterPunch writes about Obama coup plotting

In present-day Venezuela, it is unlikely that the U.S. government could directly orchestrate a plot that calls itself “Bolivarian” and comes from the Venezuelan Air Force. Nevertheless, the White House might well be working to delicately promote such a thing and later take advantage of it. One possible scenario would involve an initial military coup by dissident Bolivarian officers, followed by a call for elections in which the legal and recognized opposition – involving such figures as Henrique Capriles, Antonio Ledezma, María Corina Machado and Julio Borges – would emerge to take charge.

The possibility of a military coup followed by hurried elections – a two-stage overthrow – could be what is behind the U.S. driven media campaign against Venezuela that has unfolded in recent weeks and involves extravagant claims about government figures running an international drug trafficking ring.

I am going to keep watching this story. 

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2 Responses to Venezuela Crisis Growing as US Media Deflects

  1. Pingback: Some News Headlines and Tweets | The Biased Reporter

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