[Marxism] Fwd: [A-List] Why the international media lies about events in Latin America

Néstor Gorojovsky nmgoro at gmail.com
Mon Oct 26 06:06:26 MDT 2009

Sorry for cross-posting. But this piece of news explains why it is NOT
"cowardice" to place no trust on anything the media tell us on
whatever happens in countries not fully subservient to imperialist

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: james daly <james.irldaly at ntlworld.com>
Date: 2009/10/26
Subject: [A-List] Why the international media lies about events in Latin America
To: a-list at lists.econ.utah.edu

Venezuela's private media actively supported the coup with lies and

By Eric Toussaint, translated by Francesca Denley and Judith Harris

October 21, 2009 -- It may be useful to assess the dangers of the
systematically hostile attitude of the overwhelming majority of major
European and North American media companies to the current events taking
place in Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela. This hostility is only matched by
an embarrassed, complicit silence towards those involved in the putsch in
Honduras and the repression of the Peruvian army against the Indigenous
populations of the Amazon.

To demonstrate this, here are a few recent facts:

1) On June 5, 2009, the Peruvian army massacred more than 50 Amazonian
Indians who were protesting against the land concessions made by President
Alan Garcia’s government for foreign, mainly European transnational
companies. The repression aroused no disapproval among the major global
media groups.[1] These groups gave almost exclusive priority to the protests
occurring in Iran. Not only did the press fail to condemn the repression in
Peru, it did not even bother to cover the story. And yet in Peru, so great
was public discontent that the government had to announce the repeal of the
presidential decree which the Amazonian Indians had fought against. Once
again, media coverage of the government’s backtracking was almost

We must ask ourselves the following question: if a Venezuelan or Ecuadorian
army or police intervention had caused the deaths of dozens of Amazonian
Indians, what kind of media coverage would such events have received?

2) When the constitutionally elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya,
was ousted by the military on June 28, the overwhelming majority of media
groups declared, in total contradiction of the truth, that the soldiers were
reacting to Zelaya’s attempt to modify the constitution, thus ensuring he
could remain in power. Several media groups added that he was following the
example of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who is presented as an authoritarian
populist leader.

In fact, Zelaya was proposing to Honduran citizens that they vote in favour
of a general election for a constituent assembly, which would have
represented real democratic progress. This is well explained by Cécile
Lamarque and Jérôme Duval on their return from a CADTM mission to Honduras:

The coup d’Etat was carried out on the same day Manuel Zelaya had organised
a non-binding “consultation” asking the Hondurans whether or not they wanted
to convene a National Constituent Assembly, after the elections which were
due to take place on the 29 November 2009. The question went like this: “Do
you agree that at the next general elections of 2009, a fourth ballot box be
installed so as to allow for the people to express their point of view on
the convocation of a national Constituent Assembly? YES or NO?” If this
consultation had resulted in the majority voting “yes”, the president would
have issued a decree of approval before Congress so that, on November 29,
the Hondurans would formally make known their decision on the convocation of
a Constituent Assembly through this “fourth ballot box” (the first three
ballot boxes would be for the election of a president, MPs and mayors,
respectively). In order to give an air of legality to the coup, Congress and
the Supreme Court, associated with the putsch, deemed the ballot box to be
illegal and asserted that president Zelaya had “violated the constitution”
by trying to modify it “so as to set his sights on serving a new mandate”,
in the manner of an “apprentice Chavist dictator”. And yet, Manuel Zelaya,
through this consultation with the people, was not seeking to renew his
presidential mandate of four years which cannot be renewed. Zelaya would
therefore be unable to be a candidate for his own succession.[2]

Whilst the popular movements opposing those involved in the putsch
increased, with protests and strikes in July, August and September, the big
international media only dedicated a couple of lines to these events. On the
rare occasions when leading daily newspapers dedicated a feature article to
the situation in Honduras, they adopted a policy of slander against the
constitutionally elected president by presenting the military’s actions as a
democratic military coup.

This is the case with the Wall Street Journal, which in its editorial on
July 1, 2009, wrote, “the military coup d’etat which took place in Honduras
on June 28th and which led to the exile of the president of this Central
American country, Manuel Zelaya, is strangely democratic”. The editorial
adds, “the legislative and judicial authorities will remain intact”
following military action. On its part, perhaps in a more subtle manner, the
famous French newspaper Le Monde participated in a smear campaign against
Manuel Zelaya. Here is one example. On September 12, 2009, Jean-Michel
Caroit, the newspaper’s special correspondent in Honduras, quoted the words
of a French expatriate living in the country and then associated these words
with the systematically repeated lie regarding Zelaya’s supposedly sinister
intentions, “‘For the Hondurans, Zelaya’s return is unacceptable as that
would mean there would be twenty years of a Chavez-style dictatorship,’
states Marianne Cadario in reference to the Venezuelan president who -- as
his ally Manuel Zelaya tried to do (underlined by author) -- modified the
Constitution in order for him to be allowed to be re-elected. Marianne
Cadario, a Frenchwoman who has lived in Honduras for over thirty years,
states that she is “very shocked by the reaction of the international
community who condemned the putsch.”[3]

The tone of newspapers like Le Monde and Libération began to change at the
end of September after those involved in the putsch began to increase their
repressive measures. The tone became more critical of those involved in the
putsch. Having said this, the daily newspaper Libération deserves a prize
for its use of euphemisms. In fact on September 28, 2009 (three months to
the day after the coup) the title “The Scent of Dictatorship” (underlined by
author) of a paragraph explaining how the government involved in the putsch
had declared, “‘the banning of “any public unauthorised meeting,” the arrest
of “anyone putting their lives or anyone else’s in danger” “evacuation” of
areas where there are protesters and those who interfere with “any
broadcasting of programmes by any media that endanger public order.”[4]

3) At the beginning of August 2009, Venezuela’s authorities’ intention to
question the right of 34 radio and television channels made headlines in the
international press. The way in which the major news publications treat the
subject of the media in Venezuela is one of unilateral hostility, despite
the fact that 90% of Venezuela’s media is privately owned, a large number of
which actively support disinformation campaigns. Globovisión, one of the
main privately owned TV channels, actively participated in the military coup
d’etat against Chavez on April 11, 2002. A documentary made by Globovisión
made its way around the world on April 11, 2002, and the days following the
military coup. It was actually a set-up, designed to distort the truth. One
can see people posing as Chavez supporters on a bridge, firing their guns in
an unidentifiable direction. The voiceover of the Globovisión journalist
states that the Chavez supporters are about to kill opposition protesters
who were protesting peacefully in the streets below the bridge.

The Venezuelan prosecution has been able to reconstruct the exact chain of
events, having analysed the reports and photographs made by certain
individuals on the day of April 11. In fact, the pro-Chavez militants, who
according to Globovisión were shooting at protesters, were actually
responding to gunfire coming from an armoured vehicle of the metropolitan
police, allied to the putsch. The opposition protesters were no longer in
the streets when those guns were fired. Several sources can prove without a
doubt that the assassination of the anti-Chavez protesters was used as a
set-up so as to attribute these crimes to Chavez, thus justifying their
coup. On April 11, 2008, Venezuelan viewers were able to see again the
images of the press conference given by the military involved in the putsch
at a time when no protester had yet been killed. And yet the military
announced at that time that they were taking power following the murders
carried out by Chavez supporters. This clearly supports the theory that
these murders were planned deliberately so as to justify their seditious

In the days following the putsch, on April 12 and 13, 2002, when hundreds of
thousands of unarmed citizens surrounded the barracks of the putschists to
demand the return of Hugo Chavez, then in prison, Globovisión failed to
broadcast any coverage of these protests, explaining that the country was
back to normal and that Hugo Chavez had tendered his resignation and was on
his way to Cuba.

During the last hours of the putsch, this channel broadcast only cartoons
and variety shows[5]. Globovisión in fact connived with the putschists on
several critical occasions, a fact which led the parents of victims and
injured survivors’ associations to demand the channel’s conviction. Up to
now the Chavez government has refused this demand in order to prevent
further escalation of the international smear campaign being waged against
it. Several human rights associations are dissatisfied with the passive
attitude of the Venezuelan authorities in this matter.

More recently, Globovisión has been sympathetic towards the authors of the
June 28 putsch in Honduras. Several program presenters at Globovisión
supported the putsch from the very beginning, at the same time accusing the
Chavez government of interference in condemning it. For example, Guillermo
Zuloaga, the president of Globovisión, stated on July 17 that “the
government of Micheletti complies with the Constitution, and we would like,
indeed we would be delighted, if here in Venezuela, the Constitution was
respected in the same way that it is in Honduras”, thus making clear his
support for the putschist government.

Globovisión has never been prohibited from broadcasting. What major European
or North-American media has even mentioned this fact? What major European or
North-American media has ever informed the public that the overwhelming
majority of Venezuela’s media are controlled by the private sector? Or that
they capture more than 90% of the viewing audience? Or that they are
extremely aggressive towards the government, presenting it as a
dictatorship, or that some of them played an active part in ousting a
constitutionally elected president, and have continued to broadcast freely
for seven years? Can one imagine General de Gaulle failing to take
repressive measures against a newspaper, radio or TV station that was seen
to actively support a coup during the Algerian war? Would it not be
considered normal for the Spanish government to take measures against the
media that actively supported – in real time – Colonel Tejero when he burst
into the Cortes[6] with a group of military putschists and held at gunpoint
the MPs who were there? If Manuel Zelaya were restored to office as
constitutional president, would he and his government not be in their right
to demand accountability and take measures against the Honduran media owners
who deliberately supported the putschists by systematically detorting the
truth and covering up the human rights violations committed by the military?

4) When you read the European or North American newspapers, you get the
distinct impression that Venezuela is indulging in huge arms expenditures
(particularly by way of Russia), which poses a serious threat in the region.
Yet according to the CIA[7] the situation is quite different: Venezuela’s
military budget ranks 6th in the region, after Brazil, Argentina, Chile (far
less populated than Venezuela and regarded as a model), Colombia and Mexico.
In relative terms, taking the GDP of each country, the Venezuelan military
budget comes 9th in Latin America! Is any of this published in the leading
news publications?

On another front, in August 2009, we read in the newspapers that Sweden took
Venezuela to task after the Colombian government once again denounced its
neighbour for supplying arms to the FARC guerillas. Sweden had in fact
informed Colombia that SAAB missiles found in a FARC camp had been supplied
by Venezuela. But for those who read Hugo Chavez’s detailed response, it
became clear that the missiles in question had been stolen from a Venezuelan
harbour in 1995, four years before Chavez became president.


One needs to be aware of the one-sided manner in which the leading
international capitalist media report the news, and adopt a highly critical
approach when appraising it. The discrediting of Hugo Chavez, Rafael Correa
and Evo Morales is so excessive that it poses the risk of numbing
international public opinion in the event of another coup d’etat, or of
lulling the public into approving aggressive measures taken by a government
such as the US. Among the many insidious and unfounded accusations, we can
read in the Spanish papers (for example in El Pais) that Rafael Correa’s
election campaign was financed by the FARC. We can also read that Venezuela’s
authorities do nothing to fight drug trafficking. In the case of the
Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, the discredit heaped on him is intended to
prevent international opinion mobilising in favour of his return to power as
head of State.

[Eric Toussaint, president of Committee for the Abolition of Third World
Debt, Belgium, has a PhD in political science from the University of Liège
(Belgium) and the University of Paris VIII (France). He is author of Bank of
the South. An Alternative to the IMF-World Bank, VAK, Mumbai, India, 2007;
The World Bank, A Critical Primer, Pluto Press, Between The Lines, David
Philip, London-Toronto-Cape Town 2008; Your Money or Your Life, The Tyranny
of Global Finance, Haymarket, Chicago, 2005.


[1] See http://www.cadtm.org/Le-CADTM-est-pleinement-solidaire and

[2] Cécile Lamarque and Jérome Duval, « Honduras : Why the Coup d’Etat »,
September 17, 2009, http://www.cadtm.org/Honduras-Pourquoi-le-coup-d-Etat.

[3] Jean-Michel Caroit, « Au Honduras, la campagne électorale s’ouvre dans
un climat de haine », Le Monde, p. 8, September 12, 2009.


[5] It is interesting at this point to note the initiative of Hugo Chavez’
government on April 11, 2008, six years after the putsch. The government
used its right to broadcast on the private and public TV stations to show a
re-run of the entire reportage produced by the anti-Chavist private channels
(Globovisión, RCTV) on the official inauguration session of the president
and the putschist government in a reception room in the Miraflores
presidential palace. The complete program was re-broadcast without any cuts
or critical commentary by the Chavez government. Chavez relied on the
critical acumen of Venezuelan viewers to form their own opinion on the
active complicity of the private media with those behind the putsch, among
whom the viewer could identify the leading Catholic church authorities, the
putschist military brass, the head of the anti-Chavist labour union CTV
(Confederation of Workers of Venezuela), the chief executives of private
corporations and the president of the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of
Commerce (Fedecámaras), Pedro Carmona. It should be said that Carmona, who
held power for scarcely 36 hours, earned the enduring nickname of “Pepe el
breve” (Pepe the brief).

[6] On February 23, 1981, an attempted coup d’état organised by Francoist
sectors took place in the Spanish congress. The leader, Colonel Tejero, held
the members of parliament present at gunpoint and took them hostage as the
new president of the government was being sworn in.

[7] See
consulted in March 2009.


Néstor Gorojovsky
El texto principal de este correo puede no ser de mi autoría

More information about the Marxism mailing list