Last week’s abortive coup d’etat against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had the fingerprints of the CIA all over it. However, when Chavez speaks of the incident, he also calls it a “media coup,” referring to emerging facts about how the coup was prepared and carried out that show how international monopoly capital seeks to use the mass media, not only to define, conceal and distort the facts, but to manipulate actual events.
In Venezuela, all but one major newspaper and one TV station have been howling for Chavez’s blood for months. When the coup broke after street violence in April, the TV stations distorted events in a very significant way:
• They showed only scenes of pro-Chavez individuals firing pistols, but not that the violence was very likely started by anti-Chavez forces. They appear to have had the footage, but edited in such a way as to make it appear as if pro-Chavez people had started firing for no reason at all. Thus, they helped to provide a pretext for overthrowing a legally elected president.
• Then, when the poor rose up to demand that Chavez be restored to power, the TV stations did not cover this news, but instead ran cartoons and the film Pretty Woman.
• When Chavez was restored on April14, none of the anti-Chavez newspapers were published that day.
• Now that Chavez is restored to power and is not carrying out massacres or witch-hunts as they had feared, they are screaming about Chavez the repressive, Chavez the dictator, and all but openly callling for another coup.
But in this week’s Newsweek magazine and in an article by David Adams writing in The St. Petersburg Times on April 18, a more sinister role on the part of the Venezuelan media is laid out. According to these sources, at least one major media mogul, Gustavo Cisneros, of the Venevision TV channel, was intimately involved both in the planning and execution of the coup, and in working with U.S. officials to help bring it about.
Cisneros is said to be a disgruntled former supporter of Chavez. Be that as it may, he now hates the president. He has documented contact with Otto Reich, the U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Hemispheric Affairs. Reich admits having conversations with Cisneros during the coup, but claims he did not instigate or encourage it.
Others claim that Cisneros not only supported the coup, but was the central planner of activity, with meetings of coup plotters, including the coup’s flash-in-the-pan puppet president Pedro Carmona, taking place right in the Venevision headquarters.
Other TV, radio and newspaper magnates, especially those of Globovision, RCTV and the El Nacional newspaper chain, may also have been directly involved in planning the coup.
We are affected in the United States because of the interlocking relationships between the Venezuelan media and media here. For example, Adams claims that Globovision CEO Alberto Ravell telephoned CNN in the United States to ask them not to broadcast news of the efforts to restore Chavez to power. Globovision is affiliated with CNN, which claims it did not alter its coverage on the basis of any outside request.
In particular, UNIVISION, which serves many Spanish-language TV markets in the United States, has been acting like the mouthpiece of the same Venezuelan media conglomerates that were instrumental in carrying out the coup. Not that English- language media here have been appreciably better.
People in the United States are being fed a diet of misinformation that serves to justify the next coup attempt in Venezuela, the third largest supplier of oil to the United States and a country that has annoyed the Bush administration by cooperating with Cuba, refusing to cut oil prices to suit the U.S., refusing to support pro-corporate trade policies and other great sins.
So: Have you renewed your membership to the People’s Weekly World yet? How about getting your friends, relatives and co-workers to subscribe, and you will have them plugged into the real scoop on Venezuela and everything else.
Emile Schepers is a reader in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org