[Marxism] First-Class Expose of Distortions in Bourgeois Media against Chavez

M. Junaid Alam junaidalam at msalam.net
Thu Mar 25 21:26:35 MST 2004

Full: http://www.counterpunch.org/solo03252004.html

March 25, 2004
Misreporting Venezuela
Hugo Chavez as Processed by The Independent


Many people read the London based Independent newspaper because among 
its reporters is the outstanding Robert Fisk. The anti-war stance of the 
newspaper on Iraq and its stance on genetically manipulated foods and 
other environmental issues may give the impression that the Independent 
is a responsible newspaper across the board. But a look at its coverage 
of Venezuela reveals the same old story of distortion, omission and 
deceit on US intervention in Latin America that one finds everywhere 
else in the corporate media.

It may be worth pointing out that the owner of the UK Independent is 
Tony O'Reilly, one of Ireland's most prominent businessmen, formerly 
head of H.J. Heinz. H.J. Heinz heiress Teresa Heinz is married to 
Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry. Also of note is that 
O'Reilly shares philanthropic concerns through the Ireland Fund with 
fellow fund member Peter Sutherland, former GATT and World Trade 
Organization chief, also chairman of oil giant BP-Amoco.1 It's unlikely 
their corporate philantropy extends to Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan 

Three important stories on Venezuela have appeared in the Independent 
during March.2 One by Phil Gunson on March 2nd, one by Andrew Buncombe 
on March 13th and one by Rupert Cornwell on March 20th. Phil Gunson's 
article is crude anti-Chavez propaganda. Buncombe's is a straightforward 
account of US funding for the Venezuelan opposition. Cornwell's is a 
more insidious anti-Chavez piece employing classic BBC-style bonhomie 
and "balance". Both pieces depend on ignoring crucial facts.

Chavez rubbished among Gunson's garbage

The keynote in Gunson's piece comes in the second paragraph: "Three 
months after the opposition umbrella group, the Democratic Co-ordinator 
(CD), gathered more than three million signatures for a referendum 
against the leftist President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's electoral 
authority was poised to reject the petition.

The only way to revive the referendum, guaranteed under Mr Chavez's 1999 
constitution, would be for hundreds of thousands of signatories to 
reaffirm their intentions - an option that seemed certain to be rejected 
by the CD as impractical."

Phil Gunson whimsically attributes to himself the authority to judge the 
number of signatures collected. He says nothing about the circumstances 
of the recall vote – which no European country would have regarded 
as acceptable. For example, voting lists were taken from the voting 
stations by opposition party representatives so as to register votes by 
going from house to house. The Chavez government accepted that and other 
abnormal voting procedures, presumably so as to quit the opposition of 
any excuse were they to lose the vote.

In the event the opposition failed to collect the necessary 2.4 million 
clearly valid votes they needed. They only got 1.8 million votes 
ratified by the national electoral council. 600.000 votes were 
disqualified outright by the electoral council as being obviously 
invalid. A further 800,000 thousand votes are in question, mainly 
because many of the signature forms presented as valid share identical 
handwriting. These questionable votes are now to be made available in 
voting stations to allow the people to whom the signatures were 
attributed a second chance to confirm their vote. Contrary to Gunson's 
comment, the constitutional procedure for the confirmation process is no 
more impractical than the original recall vote itself.

Gunson's article then notes the widespread violent protests by the 
US-funded Venezuelan opposition. The impression he gives is of broad 
based popular opposition to an oppressive unpopular regime. But he 
offers no support for any of his assertions. This example of weasel-like 
sourcing; gives the flavour: "Election observers from the Atlanta-based 
Carter Centre and the Organisation of American States (OAS) were 
preparing to leave, convinced - say diplomatic sources - that the 
process has been manipulated by the electoral authority, on whose board 
the government has a majority of three to two."

Gunson failed to get the answers he wanted from the Carter Centre or 
from the OAS, so he resorted to unattributed "diplomatic sources". What 
might count as "diplomatic sources" for Phil Gunson is unclear - two US 
embassy staff? Or one US embassy Information Service hack and a 
Colombian embassy representative of death squad-friendly President 
Alvaro Uribe? An impartial reader cannot tell.

rest: http://www.counterpunch.org/solo03252004.html

More information about the Marxism mailing list