by Nil Nikandrov
- “Peaceful” masked demonstrators prepare a molotov cocktail during clashes in Caracas, Sunday, March 2, 2014.
During the recent carnival in Venezuela, the isolated pockets of student protests taking place in large cities died out as if by magic. Or, to be more precise, they died out in the privileged areas of the cities. The organisers of the anti-government protests had assured the world that the carnival would not take place, and that the tradition of travelling to Caribbean beaches would be cancelled, since “the dissatisfaction of the people” had reached a climax. Just a little bit more and the regime would come crashing down, President Nicolás Maduro and his comrades would run off to Cuba, and the country would return to “a true democracy”. The protests were widely covered by leading television channels in the West, and now – complete silence. Venezuelans are celebrating and relaxing.
A major role in the information and psychological war against Venezuela belongs to US intelligence agencies. The whole of Hugo Chavez’s presidency was spent amid severe information warfare which the US placed great emphasis on in order to compromise the very idea of building a 21st century socialism in Venezuela. Chavez never promised a speedy success on this journey, but his well thought out social policy achieved many things. According to opinion polls, Venezuelans are among some of the happiest people in the Western Hemisphere.
The achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution with regard to healthcare, education and the construction of affordable housing guaranteed Chavez popular support. A solid home front made it possible for Chavez to successfully counteract America’s subversive operations not just in Venezuela, but in the international arena as well. One of the focal points of this information warfare was the creation of the TeleSur TV channel with the support of allied Latin American countries, and then the subsequent creation of the RadioSur radio station. Local television and radio networks were organised throughout Venezuela, and a national film studio was opened, which produces feature films on patriotic themes. A new Venezuelan film appears on the country’s screens almost every week, attracting just as many viewers as Hollywood action movies. Documentary films are also released that expose America’s policy in Latin America, including the seizure of oilfields and the removal of politicians that Washington finds disagreeable.
After the death of Chavez, the information and propaganda war against his successor – Nicolás Maduro – became even more widespread. Washington decided that the opportune moment had come to overthrow the regime. This involved Washington’s entire arsenal of destabilisation – from Colombian paramilitaries infiltrating the country to carry out terrorist attacks, to financial and economic sabotage and the use of social networking sites on the Internet.
Speaking at the UN, Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister Elias Jaua said that Venezuelan and foreign opposition media are getting involved in an active campaign to overthrow President Maduro. Jaua later explained that he was “referring to well-prepared campaigns that were being implemented by way of influential television networks.” He observed that prominent figures in the US and European art worlds “that hardly even know where Venezuela is” were being used to compromise the government. The recent statements at the Oscars awards ceremony, for example.
In particular, this refers to the CNN television channel, which is not just being used by the CIA to distribute false information about Venezuela, but also to develop negative stereotypes of the Venezuelan government and President Maduro. There has also been biased coverage of the student street protests, which CNN described as peaceful, without mentioning the protests by militant student groups that blocked off streets, set fire to cars, attacked police officers, and threatened urban infrastructure, including the metro. Among other things, opposition activists are strewing the roads with metal barbs made out of nails, causing a sharp rise in traffic accidents. There is also the practice of extending nylon string across the road to combat motorizados – motorcyclists who deliver goods, medicines, the post and so on. These motorcyclists are usually loyal to the authorities, and are therefore seen by the opposition as a hostile force. CNN, however, does not report these kinds of details.
International media outlets are also keeping quiet about the efforts of President Maduro to establish a peaceful dialogue in Venezuela, and to search for a mutual understanding with the opposition and those oligarchic circles in the country that have organised and are privately financing a prolonged campaign of civil disobedience. The tolerance of the Venezuelan authorities is increasingly being perceived as a weakness.
As a result of the biased, and sometimes even inflammatory, coverage of events in Venezuela, CNN correspondents have been expelled from the country. Journalists from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Agencia EFE, Reuters and others are also giving a biased interpretation of Venezuela’s actions. I cannot think of a time when Western journalists accredited in Venezuela have shown the least bit of discernible independence in their interpretation of events. A general alignment with Washington’s way of thinking when assessing international events and politicians is characteristic of nearly the entire body of Western journalists in the country.
Maduro’s government is doing everything it can to counteract the hostile propaganda with which Washington is trying to exacerbate the situation in Venezuela, thus obtaining a pretext to directly interfere in the country’s internal affairs. The Venezuelan government has repeatedly been issued threats and warnings by the US administration; it has been requested that the government frees those students arrested during the street protests, and sits down for talks with the opposition. Barak Obama mentioned this during a meeting with Canadian and Mexican colleagues in Toluca (Mexico) on 20 February 2014. A statement by Republican Senator John McCain sounded like an ultimatum: “We need to be ready to use military force in order to enter Venezuela and establish peace there.” The Senator noted that the operation could involve soldiers from Colombia, Peru and Chile. In addition, he emphasised that there are democratic leaders in Venezuela who are fully prepared to take on the responsibility of governing the country with the full consent of America and give her freedom. McCain also explained exactly why Washington needs “puppet democrats” in Venezuela. First and foremost, to guarantee the speedy delivery of hydrocarbons to the US. Oil deliveries from North Africa and the Middle East usually take 45 days, but only around 70 hours from Venezuela.
To explain the situation in the country and the position of the Venezuelan government, Foreign Affairs Minister Elias Jaua has made a tour of countries in Latin America and Europe, while Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez has met with Russian president Vladimir Putin and members of the Chinese government.
Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has stated that there is a real threat of a “soft coup” in Venezuela: “I am not here to defend Venezuela, or President Nicolás Maduro. I am here to defend a country’s democratic system just like we have done with Bolivia, Ecuador or with any other country in the region no matter if they are from the left, from the right. Democracy does not belong to the right or the left; democracy is to show respect for the will of the people. It would be fatal for the region, for the great strides in integration that Latin America has made in recent years, if we let foreign winds sweep in and destroy our fraternal country.”
Cristina Fernández also recalled that there have been 19 elections in Venezuela over the last 14 years, of which only one was lost by the ruling party. In accordance with the Constitution, a recall referendum could be carried out in 2016. This is the only legitimate way to change the government. The vast majority of Latin American leaders are of the same opinion as Cristina Fernández.
Political analysts are paying attention to the timing of America’s efforts to replace the government in Venezuela and Ukraine. Washington wants to show the world that a superpower is still capable of directing the course of events in different parts of the world in whatever direction it needs. Obama would like to conclude his presidency with spectacular victories in Eastern Europe and Latin America: turning Ukraine into a satellite state, which would ensure America’s military presence on Russia’s borders, and carrying out a significant regime change in Venezuela in order to put paid to all independent Latin American integration projects…