Le Monde Diplomatique on Venezuela's media

Jose G. Perez jgperez at netzero.net
Fri Sep 13 10:20:14 MDT 2002


Venezuela's Press Power

by Maurice Lemoine; Le Monde Diplomatique; September 11, 2002

"We had a deadly weapon: the media. And now that I have the opportunity, let
me congratulate you." In Caracas, on 11 April 2002, just a few hours before
the temporary overthrow of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, Vice- Admiral
Victor Ramírez Pérez congratulated journalist Ibéyiste Pacheco live on
Venevision television. Twenty minutes earlier, when Pacheco had begun to
interview a group of rebel officers, she could not resist admitting,
conspiratorially, that she had long had a special relationship with them.

At the same time, in a live interview from Madrid, another journalist,
Patricia Poleo, also seemed well informed about the likely future
development of "spontaneous events". She announced on the Spanish channel
TVE: "I believe the next president is going to be Pedro Carmona." Chávez,
holed up in the presidential palace, was still refusing to step down.

After Chávez came to power in 1998, the five main privately owned channels -
Venevisión, Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), Globovisión and CMT - and nine
of the 10 major national newspapers, including El Universal, El Nacional,
Tal Cual, El Impulso, El Nuevo País, and El Mundo, have taken over the role
of the traditional political parties, which were damaged by the president's
electoral victories. Their monopoly on information has put them in a strong
position. They give the opposition support, only rarely reporting government
statements and never mentioning its large majority, despite that majority's
confirmation at the ballot box. They have always described the working class
districts as a red zone inhabited by dangerous classes of ignorant people
and delinquents. No doubt considering them unphotogenic, they ignore working
class leaders and organisations.

Their investigations, interviews and commentaries all pursue the same
objective: to undermine the legitimacy of the government and to destroy the
president's popular support. "In aesthetic terms, this revolutionary
government is a cesspit," was the delicate phrase used by the evening paper
Tal Cual. Its editor, Teodoro Petkoff, is a keen opponent of Chávez. Petkoff
is a former Marxist guerrilla who became a neo-liberal and a
pro-privatisation minister in the government of rightwing president Rafael
Caldera. The Chávez government is not, of course, above criticism. It makes
mistakes, and the civilian and military personnel who surround it are
tainted by corruption. But the government was democratically elected and
still has the backing of the majority. It can also be credited with
successes, nationally and internationally.

[an English version of the whole article is here:

http://www.zmag.org/content/print_article.cfm?itemID=2321&sectionID=45




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