Guardian Watch, latest, Latin America

The Guardian Takes Aim at Venezuela’s Democracy

by Joe Emersberger from TeleSUR

The British newspaper recently published an editorial saying that President Nicolas Maduro’s government must be threatened with “pariah status.”

A Venezuelan opposition supporter holds a lit Molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police in Caracas on April 10, 2017. Photo: AFP

From 2006 to 2012, The Guardian’s output on Venezuela was dominated by its Caracas-based reporter, Rory Carroll, who tirelessly demonized, ridiculed and lied about the government of former president Hugo Chavez as it made rapid progress on reducing poverty.

The Guardian recently published an editorial saying that President Nicolas Maduro’s government must be threatened with “pariah status” by the “international community“ if it does not hold presidential elections by the end of 2018. This comes from a newspaper that continually attempts to rehabilitate former British prime minister Tony Blair, a man who played a key role in launching a war of aggression that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. But no pariah status for him.

The imperial hypocrisy on display is stunning.

The Guardian editors cited the New York Times editorial board to back up their stance on Venezuela. In 2002, the New York Times editorial applauded a U.S.-backed military coup that ousted Chavez for two days.

With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chavez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona,”

…wrote the morally challenged “paper of record.”

In fact, two of the opposition leaders The Guardian mentioned in its editorial, Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles, not only supported but participated in that coup. They led the kidnapping of government officials on behalf of Pedro Carmona. The Guardian, however, made no mention of the 2002 coup at all.

That coup continues to hover over Venezuela because so many of the opposition’s most prominent leaders either supported or participated in it. Julio Borges, head of the opposition-led Nation Assembly, supported the 2002 coup and routinely makes very thinly veiled appeals for the military to oust Maduro. Borges just did so in the pages of El Universal, one of the country’s largest newspapers, where he regularly publishes op-eds.

The other day, a news report in Venezuela’s largest TV network, Venevision, featured opposition politician Marialbert Barrios making a very similar appeal to the military.

The Guardian editors regurgitate a talking point that has been common in the western media: that Venezuela was “once South America’s richest country.” That’s true if the measure one uses is gross domestic product, GDP, per capita adjusted by purchasing power parity, PPP. But that measure says nothing about distribution.

Venezuela had a poverty rate of 50 percent in 1998 when Chavez was first elected even though it was second in South America at the time by GDP per capita. By the United Nation’s Human Development Index, HDI, a composite measure that takes into account life expectancy, education and national income, Venezuela ranked below several Latin American countries in 1998. Its HDI ranking then improved drastically until 2013, the year Chavez died. Using the U.N.’s most recent data and taking full account of the recent devastating recession it has experienced, Venezuela continues to rank above most countries in South America by HDI despite ongoing economic hardships.

There certainly are avoidable child deaths in Venezuela as The Guardian editors said. There always have been, but such deaths are more prevalent throughout the rest of the region, including Peru, whose right-wing government has loudly demanded that Venezuela deal with its “humanitarian crisis.”

Then there is Colombia, a country that has millions of internally displaced people, rivaling Syria. Colombia is also a country with a military that is being investigated by the International Criminal Court for murdering thousands of innocent people. In The Guardian’s universe, this arms client state of the U.S. and U.K. is just another “respectable” member of the “international community” that must straighten out Venezuela.

The Guardian is inexcusably sloppy in other claims.

It says inflation is at 800 percent. Torino Capital, a source that is very critical of the Maduro government, said inflation averaged 299 percent last year and projects it will average 434 percent next year. Unemployment was at 7.3 percent last year. Torino also projects a very small contraction of real GDP (-0.5 percent) next year and a return to growth by 2018. It has also commissioned polls from Datanalisis, an opposition-aligned pollster. Incidentally, the president of Datanalisis, Luis Vicente Leon, also criticizes the government in the pages of El Universal on a regular basis. As of March, according to Datanalisis, Maduro’s approval rating was 24.1 percent and has been steadily increasing in 2017. At the same time, the approval ratings of the most popular opposition leaders have fallen to 40 percent. These facts have been blacked out by the international press.

The Maduro government has not dealt with the root cause of the economic crisis, but, through direct deliveries of supplies to the poor (where its political support is concentrated) it has clearly alleviated the suffering of the poorest to a significant extent. Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas, and independent journalist based in Caracas for many years, noted that “there is a government store just below where I live and I haven’t seen queues there for months! Last year they were awful.”

Boothroyd-Rojas reports that there are still queues outside stores in Caracas but that they are nothing like they were months ago, and that government direct deliveries to the poor “have made a big difference to those who receive them.”

It should be noted that in December 2015, Datanalisis said Maduro’s approval rating was 32 percent just before his allies won 41 percent of the vote in National Assembly elections. It is not hard to see why opposition leaders have decided to “up their game” in terms of economic and political sabotage. Opposition leaders have openly boasted of working to block the government’s access to external financing.

Boothroyd-Rojas, who lives in a poor Caracas neighborhood, has noted the contradictions the international press has embraced to put the best face it can on the opposition’s violence. Vandalism of public property, including hospitals in poor neighborhoods, is dishonestly pointed to as evidence that the poor are starting to turn on the government: a claim The Guardian editors make. But when the middle and upper-class nature of the protests is too obvious to deny, it is alleged that the poor are simply “too hungry” to join in.

The opposition has resorted to widespread vandalism, including the torching of a Supreme Court office, and marching into areas where they have not been issued authorization — precisely to prevent a repeat of the 2002 coup — to provoke confrontation which it then points to as “repression.”

Honest, informed reporting would quickly expose those cynical tactics which are the same ones used in 2002 and again in 2014, but that’s clearly beyond what The Guardian editors are willing or able to do. We can only hope they won’t run an op-ed about Venezuela written by Blair any time soon.


  1. Lupulco says

    Too true
    How the West/US can blatantly accuse the Russians of interfering in the US elections [and keep a straight face, beggars belief]
    How many countries have the US interfered in elections/regime change since 1950 are too numerous too mention.
    Libya/Syria leaned neither to Russia or US, but had well run, reasonably fair and honest administrations. By middle east standards [some would say western standards also] not to mention ran balanced budgets [ can the western countries say that?]
    The mass of the people had a decent standard of living, education and health service. Yes there is some sections that were not too happy, wanting power for themselves [or their sponsors?] But things would have resolved themselves in time without outside involvement and a lot less destruction and bloodshed.
    Dissenters of western governments still use mainly peaceable means to change government policies. How would western governments react if these dissenters were to be supported in a similar manner as dissenters were supported by their sponsors in Libya/Syria?
    I suspect outrage and a mass crackdown on these dissenters and MSM propaganda against their sponsors.

    Simple questions.
    1] Israel retaliates against Gaza [killing dozen or more people and rent a mob march. Blaming Israel
    2] The west interferes in the mid-east Iraq/Libya/Syria killing thousands and rent a mob march. Blaming the west for killing of thousands of Muslims and saying that this is the reason for Muslim retaliation in the west.
    3] Saudi Arabia and the Iran are openly fighting a proxy war in Yemen and covertly fighting a proxy war in Syria/Libya. hundreds of thousands of Muslims are killed by Muslims. Why are rent a mob not marching to protest outside Saudi and Iranian Embassies about the slaughter of Muslims by Muslims?

  2. Eddy says

    i will always applaud the west for their great acts of hypocrite to other less developed nations and countries

  3. Hello there, It is important to understand that Chavezmadurism ideology is nothing but a bunch of thiefs who happened to have stolen US$300Billions from the National Treasury, so now they are willing to kill their own people before facing justice, it is the worst democide case this Century. They robbed the people and then they kill them. Their terrorist politics have killed 300.000 people in the last 12 years. What do you call that, right propaganda?, tell that to their families. Oh I forgot, Maduro´s boss is the Raul Castro as Fidel was Chavez’s.

    By bthe way, 40% of the National Foreign Debt is owned by those running this democide. (Rudolph Rummel/Powerkills).Socialists love to share the work and wealth of others but not their´s. Pure EGONOMICS!

    • Jim Scott says

      You ask what do you call that regarding the killing of 300,000 people.
      I call it bullshit of the most odorous pungence.

  4. Carlos says

    Ah yes, nothing is the fault of Chavez/Maduro. This mass poverty is not due to economic mismanagement and an over-reliance on oil exports. No sir, it’s due to big, bad imperialist Yankee Gringo U.S.A/CIA “economic sabotage”!


    I must say, as a Venezuelan, seeing so-called foreign “anti-imperialists” fall for Maduro’s propaganda so easily is quite funny.

    Mind you, I voted for this dictator back in 2013, so don’t bother smearing me with the standard “right-wing fascist coup-plotter’ image.

    Our opposition politicians have been arrested and the national legislature gutted, with the Supreme Court executing a fantastic coup.

    And today? This news comes out:

    “In secret recording, Venezuelan general pushes for snipers to control demonstrators”

    It’s EuroMaidan all over again. But hey, all our dictator-in-chief has to say is “CIA false flag!” like the Russians and you’ll eat it all up.

    • nineto says

      Look at the documented facts that are there to see, before offing Maduro’s claim of USA/CIA involvement in destablizing Venezuela as paranoia/distraction.

      Just LAST WEEK CIA director Mike Pompeo not only admitted to USA efforts at “regime-change” in Venezuela, you can here the cynical laughter of the audience when he states: “We’re working hard to do that. I’m always careful when talking about South and Central America and the CIA, there’s lots of stories…” – then comes the audience laughter. The sick, hateful laughter of imperialists who care not a bit for the thousands murdered in CIA-sponsored coups in the region, establishing brutal military dictatorships that terrorized populations and secured resources for their American pay-masters.

      Are these the people you would rather have in charge? Is that progress?

      • Quiet Si says

        It’s interesting to compare Chile and Venezuela. One a socialist paradise and resource rich haven of people power, the other a thriving economy, where on every measure (gdp/capita, health outcomes etc) the Chilean market economy model performs much better. The reforms in Chile largely stem from the rule of Pinochet, a ruthless dictator who indulged in mass murder and internment to cement his power base. It’s a bit like the admiration socialists have for Stalin. A ruthless dictator and mass murderer but the difference is his economic policies turned out to be a disaster for his own and many other countries.

        • nineto says

          There are a lot of things to compare and how and what you compare can often give you the results you seek.

          In your case though, there are many “alternative facts”. One: current Chile’s “thriving economy” is in a recession.

          Two: you can consider Pinochets toture and murder of over 35,000 victims as a perk to “every measure” of the economy if you like, what this really meant vis a vis the quality-of-life in a brutal dictatorship is another thing. Oh, and Pinochet was removed from office ONLY because his wonderful economic policies FAILED miserably. Check:

        • John Roberts says

          Whereas Stalin’s succeeded in 20-30 short years of turning a backward, semi-feudal country into a modern superpower that had the capitalist class of Europe and the USA absolutely crapping themselves with fear as to the effect their ‘bad example’ was having on the rest of the world. So much so that they had to launch a 75 year war against it. 🙂

          • Quiet Si says

            Stalin starved 4 million Ukranians to death and killed tens of millions of Rusians who died of poverty and famine. Then there were those millions who disagreed with his policy initiatives for his socialist paradise who ended up dead, imprisoned or exiled or left. It was so good in the Soviet Union that like anyone who has lived in a socialist paradise they want to leave.
            You applaud a deranged despot who built a war machine and sacrificed the prosperity of his people because of your crackpot ideology. Odd?!

  5. antirepublocrat says

    I love the lead photo of the “non-violent” protester. Thank you Agence France-Presse.

  6. rtj1211 says

    As the Guardian is now owned by neocon globalist banking interests, it is entirely ludicrous to expect it to peddle a left of centre agenda.

    It has joined News International, the Telegraph Group, Viscount Rothermere’s stable and the Express group in providing what in communist nations of yesteryear would be called State Propaganda. This is Oligarch Propaganda, but that is not propaganda because people choose freely to buy the right wing fare on offer.

    The first rule of journalism is to create a critical mass of junkies who need their daily fix.

    If you think that telling the truth creates that addiction, you are sorely deluded.

    You create an addiction through ‘outrage, outrage’, not providing closure through solutions etc and continuing to feed ‘outrage, outrage’…..

    It is quite elegant in its construction.

    It is just rather evil in its objectives…..

  7. bevin says

    “Venezuela is rich in natural resources, the serial economic mismanagement of those resources (including human) by successive regimes is a disgrace…”
    The problem in Venezuela is that successive regimes have left economic management up to the capitalist/comprador class. And that the Chavez governments have failed to take the necessary measures to cut the claws of the capitalists. Had they done so the oligarchs would not be in a position to sabotage the economy, or to finance these demonstrations/riots or to dominate the media.
    Blair and the Guardian have both supported the death squad regime of Colombia, ideologically, financially and militarily.

    • Quiet Si says

      The actions of Chavez and now Maduro with nationalisation, price control and central direction of the economy have long ago ‘cut the capitalist claws’ but their solutions don’t work. Their is no evidence of ‘oligarch funding ‘ of riots and other civil unrest. What their is evidence of is ineptitude and corruption. Apparently Chavez’s daughter is Venezuela’s only female dollar billionaire while the regime cronies expropriate economic trophies. The masses have food shortages, medicine shortages and items like toilet paper cannot be found. The problem is corruption and the desire to implement a socialist system that will impoverished the country as it has done for every country where the great romantic experiment has been attempted.

      • JJA says

        Your claim about Chavez’s daughter relies heavily on the ‘apparently’. Come back when you have proper evidence, not MSM smears,

      • Do you have anything cogent and fact based to offer by way of a comment or just a puerile willingness to repeat vague rumour, inept inuendo and capitalist reversal of truth opinion? Anything useful would do.

        • Quiet Si says

          My comments are evidence based, what are yours based on?
          Facts are that Chavez and Maduro have completely mismanaged the oil bounty, secured lucrative spots for inept placemen and appear to preside over an economy of chaotic shortages.
          Trotting out the tired old slogans (blame the oligarchs, CIA, speculators, the weather, etc etc) won’t do.
          We won’t mention the Supreme Court loaded with more ‘Bolivarian socialist’ lackeys. The ordinary folk are trying to get out in the same way they fled Hungary, E. Germany, Czechoslovakia etc before those socialist utopias collapsed.

          • Frank says

            Of course, Venezuela’s real crime was to insist on its own development and not to be told to do by the Gringos el norte, nor the Gringo controlled institutions which police the current world order – the western mainstream media IMF, WTO, World Bank, BIS EU and so forth.

            Whatever Venezuela decides on economic and political policies is a matter for Venezuela: not you, not me, nor anyone else. Venezuela does not threaten anyone of its neighbours, least of all the US.

            Unfortunately, however, the world improvers who claim to export democracy, the rule of law, and so forth, seem to have a penchant, for meddling in independent sovereign states with sanctions, colour revolutions, and, of course, bombing. But the lead up to this final process is a softening up of opinion in the imperial heartlands with both demonization of the target country’s political leadership and even the country itself.

            The process is now so established that the description ‘CIA playbook’ seems particularly appropriate. And of course, all the ‘humanitarian’ interventions have only succeeded in making the situation worse.

            Before criticising another nation state and subjecting it to colour revolutions or ‘humantarian’ intervention remember you are in contravention of international law, and it might be a good idea if you first put your own house in order.

            • Quiet Si says

              By criticising Venezuela’s leaders one is guilty of international law?!
              I think not. Calm down. I don’t think anyone is suggesting bombing Venezuela unless this is the latest Moscow line from you and Jen (Jen in a reply was concerned the Saudis were trying to bankrupt the Russian gas industry!! There’s a whole comedy in Jen’s lack of knowledge or deliberate misrepresentation).
              ChavMad and their delusional policies are the villains here, and the victims in poverty are the poor suffering Venezuelan people.
              Lets go with what works and it certainly isn’t Bolivarian socialism.

              • Jen says

                Glad to know you think my comments are funny. I’ve even had a few thumbs-up on them.

                Unfortunately yours are kind of lagging in comedy and the thumbs-up departments.

              • Joe Hill says

                ” I don’t think anyone is suggesting bombing Venezuela ”

                The US has already engineered one coup, but it was unsuccessful. It is not wild to suggest that the US is currently engaged in soft power attacks on Venezuela.

                “ChavMad and their delusional policies are the villains here, and the victims in poverty are the poor suffering Venezuelan people”

                The poor are still better off than they were prior to Chavez.

                Youare a rightist liar and false propaganda peddler.

            • chrisb says

              ‘Venezuela’s real crime was to insist on its own development’. Very true. Chavez and Maduro developed the Venezuelan economy into the ground. It’s certainly a crime in the minds of those who don’t have enough food to eat.

      • Jim Scott says

        My suggestion on the lack of toilet paper is to get some old copies of the Washington Post and the New York Times and even the Guardian. Just screw it up then straighten it up a few times and it eminently suitable for a more useful purpose than informing readers.

  8. Lazarini says

    If ever there was proof needed that propaganda campaigns by the MSM are concocted from a central political source, the so-called “reporting” on Venezuela is the perfect example. It is near impossible to find a single article in the West that factually deals with the situation and historical background of events in Venezuela.

    You’d think we were living in Germany ca. 1939. Well maybe we are closer to that era than we care to imagine.

  9. The US and UK are setting the stage for their next intervention and “civil” war. Getting one’s ducks all in a row is very important when one is manipulating the gullible into a state of acceptance and who better to do this than the morally bankrupt Guardian?

  10. Quiet Si says

    This is one of the more interesting and evidence backed pieces which doesn’t try and pretend all is well in Venezuela following the interventions of Saints Maduro and Chavez. There is no doubt that the corruption and self interest of the ruling classes in many South American countries is a cancer in their societies and strong democratic institutions and an independent judiciary both free from corruption are sorely needed.
    Venezuela is rich in natural resources, the serial economic mismanagement of those resources (including human) by successive regimes is a disgrace.

    • Jen says

      Excuse me but isn’t there also the fact that Saudi Arabia’s attempts (instigated by the US) to crash the Russian economy by flooding global markets with oil also derailed Venezuela’s exports and wiped out that country’s foreign exchange reserves? Venezuela happens to rely heavily – probably too heavily – on exporting oil. Plus the country is on a sanctions list.

      • Quiet Si says

        Saudi fought the US shale drillers and lost. Economically Saudi is facing massive budget problems. Even at $130 a barrel Venezuela couldn’t pay it’s way such was Chavez’s largesse. No attempt was made to encourage other industries in resource rich Venezuela so when the state controlled oilcompany stuffed with political appointees on fabulous salaries had to work with lower prices it started to fail, and no other recently established businesses were growing (and would have benefited from lower oil prices) could take up the slack.

        • Jen says

          In case you’ve just woken up from a 20-year Rip-van-Winkle nap, Saudi Arabia is in deep budgetary shit due to its foolish war on Yemen which the Saudis thought they could win easily. Instead the war has been dragging on for over two years. Flooding the global oil market with oil to drive down oil prices and ruin Russia is also wrecking the KSA’s finances as well as Venezuela’s finances, and this together with the ruinous war will destroy Saudi Arabia. As for the US shale oil industry, the main problem after the Saudi oil dumping strategy (which is ruining that industry) is that new reserves have to be brought into production almost as soon as they’re found because current reserves reach their individual peak production levels very quickly and decline soon after.

          If you can’t get the reasons for the KSA’s budget problems in order, how should I believe the rest of your trolling about Venezuela? You provide no evidence that Chavez and Maduro have done what their political opposition is most likely to do if it ever seized power. Come to think of it, on all other Off-Guardian articles on Venezuela, you have never provided any evidence that Chavez and Maduro have acted in the way you say they do. You comment mainly to troll on the comment forums and throw the discussions off into unproductive tangents.

          • Quiet Si says

            The Yemen war is the icing on the cake for the KSA. Their budgetary problems are far greater than the marginal cost of a small local war. That is why, even though budgetary break even is about $66 per barrel (pb) the actual cost of production is below $5 pb in older fields so they were still producing more and more oil when the price was below $40 and $30 pb. The aim was to send into bankruptcy the shale drillers (you mention Russia, similar to KSA with a high budget break even price but low cost of production). The problem is that technology moves on, US/Canada shale wells now are cheaper to drill, last longer and produce more. KSA failed. I don’t think KSA are as obsessed by Russia as you are. Similarly with Venezuelan oilfields, no investment in technology and production by ChavMad never mind downstream industries means that the whole economy of that country is on its knees.

            • Brutally Remastered says

              If the “cost of a small local war” were only “marginal” then why did the sainted Royal family (UK Branch) spend so much gracious time and, very real effort, traipsing over there to wave swords around and smile feverishly recently?
              I believe that the contracts for BAE etc may have been very, very large actually.

          • John Roberts says

            I think when we talk of Saudi Arabia’s murderous war on Yemen we should really be calling it the USA’s war on Yemen with Saudi Arabia being the proxy. Like the Iran-Iraq war initiated by US client Saddam Hussein, the war is basically designed to add to the turmoil in the Arab world and ultimately have Saudi Arabia inflict damage upon itself, thereby setting the country up for either a coup d’état, colour revolution, civil war, or more direct US military intervention. The USA needs worldwide wars and instability to keep its military Keynesian political economy afloat and its enemies divided.

            • Quiet Si says

              I think KSA v Yemen is a bit of a red herring to distract from the original comments re Mad/Chav long term mismanagement of the Venezuelan economy. Your underlying theme to try to blame anything that goes wrong on the USA is a bit laboured in this context.

              • Wrong. The US empire is behind everything and anything that shows signs of instability, even if they weren’t the originators of it, which in this case, they were. This is what the US always does. This is what predatory neo-liberal globalism does. It waits for its moment to prey on the weak. Like a vampire. Or in the case of our Goldman-Sachs administrations, a “giant vampire squid.”

            • antirepublocrat says

              The alleged exceptionalist goals of American interventionism — including stability, protection of human rights and the establishment of democracy — are never achieved. Nor are the less advertised but sometimes avowed goals to protect access to resources or global hegemony, as oil exports always decline in countries being invaded and the US does not enjoy hegemony (control) in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, Syria or Ukraine. Our leaders are sane. They do not take the same actions over and over again expecting different results, yet our noble goals are never achieved, and our more cynical goals are usually not achieved either. Now consider the institutional imperatives of the MIC:

              1) profits for arms manufacturers and other military contractors, 2) career enhancement for military brass, civilian employees of the CIA, Pentagon, State Department, and militarist thinktanks, 3) attendant high paying jobs guaranteed by ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) for “US persons” that keep those employees loyal to the system, 4) pork for politicians and 5) blockbuster movies and sensational headlines to sell media (and also to contribute to the necessary fear and jingoism).

              Measured against these institutional imperatives, our policies are a blockbuster success (many puns intended).

      • chrisb says

        ‘Flooding global markets’? You mean ‘selling what it produces’. If the Saudis had continued to restrict supply, you would have criticised them for driving the price of oil out of the reach of poor countries. The Saudi’s main target was probably the US oil shale industry – so much for their policy being instigated by the US. As with the war in Yemen, the Saudis spectacularly underestimated their adversary and the ability of the industry to drive down costs.

        You were right in one thing – ‘Venezuela happens to rely heavily – probably too heavily – on exporting oil’. Just goes to show that a stopped clock does occasionally tell the right time.

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