Major media manipulates Venezuela coverage

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As of Monday March 3, major demonstrations and counter demonstrations have been going on in Venezuela for several weeks. These have been covered in the U.S. and international press and media, but how they are covered is a major issue.

Supporters of the left- wing government of President Nicolas Maduro, of the Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV), are often aghast at the degree to which corporate controlled media echo the "line" of the right-wing opposition in their country, and end up retailing serious distortions of the situation there. This is mostly done by blocking out certain kinds of information that would put the Venezuelan government in a favorable light. But it is also common to see outright falsehoods and misrepresentations.

One example of this is reported recently in Venezuelan online media.

Ramon Soto, studying social sciences and law at the University of the Andes in Merida, a member of the youth branch of the PSUV and a strong supporter of Mr. Maduro's government, says that on April 10 of last year, during the lead up to the hotly contested presidential elections between the PSUV's Maduro and the right wing MUD coalition's Henrique Capriles, he was beaten up by the Voluntud Popular (People's Will, or VP) and the Juventud Activa Venezuela Unida (Activist Youth for a United Venezuela, or Javu). Blows to his face broke a number of bones, and took a while to heal. Photographs of his bandaged visage were then distributed online and by CNN in Spanish, with the false information that these were pictures of an opposition student beaten up by supporters of President Maduro in this year's street conflict.

Says Soto: "There exists a series of images of my person which are being published via social [media] networks and which are unscrupulously being distributed by television programs, above all by CNN in Spanish. These are taking some old images taken of my person, which happened on April 10 of 2013, when I was attacked by hordes who were with Henrique Capriles when he came to do the closing act of his campaign" Soto told the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN). "Now they are using these images to say that there is repression in Venezuela, and fool the world". He and others have stated that the Venezuelan opposition is circulating other images that are not even from Venezuela but from other countries and conflicts, mislabeling to create the impression that brutal repression is taking place in Venezuela.  

A number of other fake photos, circulated widely through social media in the context of the disturbances in Venezuela, have been identified.  

Very prestigious corporate news outlets such as the New York Times are lending themselves to the fakery. The New York Times was, however, recently busted by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

 A Times report suggested that the supposedly dictatorial Venezuelan regime has so far suppressed the media as to prevent the coverage of opposition political activities on television. People in Venezuela immediately spotted the mistake; in fact almost all private TV stations in Venezuela are run by people opposed to the PSUV government, which they regularly criticize. Called to account by Just Foreign Policy and others, who circulated a petition that got 13,000 signatures calling for a retraction, the Times finally climbed down and corrected its text.

However, many other U.S. and international news agencies continue to parrot the line that there is no free opposition press in Venezuela. This puts them in synch with U.S. foreign policy, which has been aiming at reversing the tendency of Latin American countries to unite in opposition to the traditional hegemonic control of the United States over the Western Hemisphere.

There are a number of far more reliable sources for Venezuela news, including the Venezuelanalysis website, and, of course, the Peoples World online - where you are reading this story!

Photo: Workers shout slogans during a pro-government march in Caracas, Venezuela. Alejandro Cegarra/AP

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  • How do you there to say these things, unarmed people is being killed on the streets by the GNB (National Guard) and the National Police. I have seen it with my own eyes, there are a lot of real photos.
    I am sure you have not been in Venezuela and if you have I guess the government invited you and paid for you stay.

    Posted by jhany, 04/02/2014 1:40pm (8 months ago)

  • Excellent as everything we get from Schepers. Will Americans be so easily fooled? How long ago was it that U.S. "newspersons" reported that Chavez was overthrown by popular revolution when, in fact, he was kidnapped for a few days and released after gigantic popular protest!

    Same "newspersons." Same lies!

    --jim lane in Dallas

    Posted by Jim Lane, 03/09/2014 2:31pm (9 months ago)

  • most of the world is being flooded with this type of mis-information & propaganda from the capitalist controlled media...thats why i get my information from sites like peoples world , the militant, granma, s o a watch, r t, & many other media outlets that have the guts to tell it "like it is".....venceremos con amor, siempre, comrades

    Posted by alstola, 03/06/2014 9:09pm (9 months ago)

  • Aligning ourselves with what is going on in Venezuela is probably not the best idea. While I support many of the government's policies the crack down on protesters is not good. I would hope People's World is not supporting that!

    Posted by CommieLover, 03/06/2014 8:56pm (9 months ago)

  • Shockingly, this is the routine practice of monopoly- manipulation of public opinion and mind control by "news" organizations from the "liberal" Times to the "conservative" Fox-and many more.
    Much, much struggle and work has to be done to free the minds and habits of many, many Americans from the notion that we are receiving easily accessible, balanced, objective reportage of daily events which effect our lives-because we are not.
    Thanks to Emile Schepers for this article.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 03/05/2014 1:47pm (9 months ago)

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