Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Continuing destabilization efforts in the long shadow of the coup

Venezuelanalysis has posted an interesting interview of two of their journalists – Z.C. Dutka and Rachael Boothroyd - by teleSUR. It focuses specifically on the meaning and legacy of the two-day coup in Venezuela in 2002. It’s all worth reading, but I’m going to quote from their answers related to the composition and tactics of the US-backed rightwing opposition:
“The 2002 coup was a sharp example of what most people already knew, that the Venezuelan opposition, with the support of the U.S. government, would stop at nothing to reroute Venezuelan politics back to neoliberalism. Since that attempt proved to be such a magnificent failure, they’ve focused their efforts on more subversive tactics associated with ‘color revolutions’; like corporate and social media campaigns, false NGOs, and economic sabotage. The idea is to create an environment of chaos while branding wealthy opposition leaders as ‘liberators’ and ‘human rights activists’.” (Dutka)
“Thirteen years later, and the impatience of the opposition and Washington hasn’t subsided, as you can imagine. Having lost virtually all democratic contests since 1998 (with the singular exception of its extremely narrow win in the Constitutional Referendum of 2007) and having falsely assumed that the revolution would fall following the death of Chavez in 2013, this desperation has now reached boiling point.” (Boothroyd)
“The other element which has also not altered since 2002 is the opposition’s obvious connections to the U.S. A factor which is a huge thorn in its side and which is preventing it from making sufficient political headway amongst the Venezuelan population.

At the time of the 2002 coup, the U.S. government admitted that it had financed and met with the coup leaders and organizations involved. This dynamic has continued since then, and in fact, funding to anti-government groups has increased under the Obama administration. This year, the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) has an increased budget destined for Venezuelan opposition “youth” and “civil society” groups.

… This is of course part of the ongoing attempted coup against the Venezuelan government which began in 1999 and which has been advanced through all conceivable means - economic strangulation, street violence, military conspiracies - to name but a few. However, perhaps what best defined the 2002 coup, and what caused most impact throughout the world, was the role of the media in aiding and abetting it.

The media deliberately manipulated imagery or refused to broadcast the actual news. On the ground, hundreds of thousands of people had surrounded the presidential palace demanding Chavez’ return, but there were only cartoons being broadcast on the nation’s television screens. It was only through community media and on the ground communications that any real information managed to make its way to the general population.

Media tycoon and owner of Venevision, the biggest private television channel in Venezuela, Gustavo Cisneros, is reported to have met with coup makers both before and after the event. His channel played perhaps the most substantial role in manipulating the footage of Llaguna Bridge, which served as a pretext to delegitimise the democratic mandate of the Chavez government. Today, the media continues to be one of the most powerful tools that the opposition has available, despite the steady expansion of state and community media. Venevision is still in operation. In fact, just last month it was revealed that Cisneros had donated up to a million U.S. dollars to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State for the Obama administration.

So as you can see, these anti-government elements are historically linked and continue to be so, from George Bush, through to Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, to Gustavo Cisneros and Venezuela’s old political elite, to which even the opposition’s newest faces belong. From Maria Corina Machado, to Henrique Capriles Radonski and Leopoldo Lopez, who all come from families belonging to Venezuela’s business elite.” (Boothroyd)
“[M]uch of the opposition's political discourse and action is actually designed for consumption abroad, in the U.S. and Europe, rather than in Venezuela. I say consumption because these figures are, in essence, paid to voice these opinions, which are basically performances designed with the gaze of the international media in mind, and which employ the aesthetic, linguistic and “moral” codes established by liberal capitalist political norms and “human rights” organizations.” (Boothroyd) [links added]

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