latest, media fakery, media watch, Propaganda, Venezuela

Western Media Shorthand on Venezuela Conveys and Conceals So Much

by Joe Emersberger, for FAIR, April 23, 2018

A Reuters article (4/18/18) reports that the European Union “could impose further sanctions on Venezuela if it believes democracy is being undermined there.”

The line nicely illustrates the kind of journalistic shorthand Western media have developed, over years of repetition, for conveying distortions and whitewashing gross imperial hypocrisy about Venezuela.  A passing remark can convey and conceal so much.


Reuters (4/19/18) reports on EU officials “accusing [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro’s government of breaches of human rights and undermining democracy.”

The EU’s sincerity in acting on what it “believes” about Venezuelan democracy is unquestioned by the London-based Reuters.  Meanwhile Spain, an EU member, is pursuing the democratically elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, for the crime of organizing an illegal independence referendum last year. Weeks ago, he was arrested in Germany at Spain’s request, and other elected representatives have been arrested in Catalonia, where Spain’s federal government deposed the elected regional government after the referendum.

In July 2017, a few months before the referendum in Catalonia, Venezuela’s opposition also organized an illegal referendum. One of the questions asked if the military shouldobey the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which was an extremely provocative question, given the opposition’s various efforts to overthrow the government by force since 2002.  The referendum required an extremely high level of political expression, organization and participation. It allegedly involved 7 million voters. The Venezuelan government disregarded the results—as Spain disregarded the Catalan referendum results—but unlike Spain, did not jail people for organizing it, or send police to brutally repress voters. In fact, two weeks later, Venezuelan voters (overwhelmingly government supporters, since the opposition boycotted and did not field candidates) were violently attacked by opposition militants when they elected a constituent assembly.  The attacks resulted in several deaths.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has hardly failed to call attention to the hypocrisy of both the EU and Spain, but the Reuters article made no mention of it.

Reuters also reported that “the country’s two most popular opposition leaders have been banned from competing” from Venezuela’s presidential election on May 20. Reuters didn’t name the two supposedly “most popular opposition leaders,” but in the past (e.g., 4/12/18, 2/28/18, 2/19/18) the wire service has identified them as Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles. As it happens, according to the opposition-aligned pollster Datanalisis, whose results have been uncritically reported by Western media like Reuters for years, opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcón has been significantly more popular than Capriles in recent months, and barely less so than Lopez.


Mark Weisbrot (in an opinion piece for US News, 3/3/18) broke the news that US government officials had been secretly pressuring Falcón not to run, so that the election could be discredited as including no viable opposition candidate. Two weeks later, Reuters (3/19/18) discreetly reported Weisbrot’s scoop.


Mark Weisbrot writes in US News (3/3/18) that US policy toward Venezuela is being set by Marco Rubio, “a hardliner who does not seem interested in an electoral or negotiated solution to Venezuela’s political crisis.”

However, by far the most important thing Reuters neglects telling readers about the “two most popular opposition leaders” is that had they done in the EU what they’ve done in Venezuela since April 2002, Lopez and Capriles would both be serving long jail terms.

Capriles and Lopez together led the kidnapping of a government minister during a briefly successful US-backed military coup in 2002 that ousted Venezuela’s democratically elected president, the late Hugo Chávez, for two days. Lopez boasted to local TV that the dictator installed by the coup (whom Lopez called “President Carmona”) was “updated” on the kidnapping.

Imagine what Carles Puigdemont’s predicament would be if, rather than organizing a peaceful referendum, he had participated in a foreign-backed, ultimately unsuccessful military coup against the Spanish government. Needless to say, running for public office would not be on the table. That would be the least of his worries.

In Venezuela, Capriles eventually served a few months in prison for participating in the coup, while Lopez avoided doing any time, thanks to a general amnesty granted by Chávez. Lopez was finally arrested in 2014 for leading another violent effort to overthrow the government.

I’ve reviewed before (teleSUR, 1/9/18) violent efforts to overthrow the government that Lopez, Capriles and other prominent opposition leaders have been involved with since the 2002 coup. I also described how Julio Borges and Henry Ramos (two other prominent opposition leaders) have openly sought to starve the Venezuelan government of foreign loans as it struggles with a severe economic crisis.

In August, Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s entire economy that will cost Maduro’s government billions of dollars this year (, 3/22/18). It has threatened to go even further, brandishing an oil embargo or even a military attack. With sufficiently compliant media (and the collusion of big human rights NGOs like Amnesty International), such depravity becomes possible.

The Reuters article also says that Venezuela’s economic “collapse has driven an estimated 3 million people to flee the country.” No need to tell readers when the economic “collapse” began—2014—much less who made the estimates or if other sources contradict them. In fact, the UN’s 2017 population division numbers estimate Venezuela’s total expat population as of 2017 at about 650,000—only about 300,000 higher than it was when Chávez first took office in 1999. Even a group of fiercely anti-government Venezuelan academics estimated less than 1 million have left since the economic crisis began. (See, 2/18/18.)

Cherry-picked statistics aside, when Western powers want a democratically elected government overthrown, the approach is clear. Complete tolerance for violent foreign-backed subversion—which the powerful states and their allies would never be expected to tolerate—becomes the test for whether or not a state is a democracy. The targeted government fails the test, is depicted as a dictatorship, and all is permitted. Only the tactics required to bring it down need be debated.

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Copyright © 2018 Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting.

Joe Emersberger is a writer based in Canada whose work has appeared in Telesur English, ZNet and Counterpunch.



  1. Harry Law says

    What the US needs to do in both Syria and Venezuela is to impose democracy, Saudi style, if the masses don’t agree, cut their heads off.

  2. Many people seem to be under the belief that Catalonia independence would be a good thing, i highly recommend people read this article from Gearóid Ó Colmáin from last year – Israel Will Be Our Bank – to get a better understanding of it.

    • Many non-Spanish people have no strong feelings one way or another as to whether Catalonia should be independent or not. What is objectionable is the completely uncalled for violent and oppressive reaction of the Spanish Government in dealing with the referendum and its aftermath – not the behaviour expected of a nation within the ‘democratic’ EU.

      • reinertorheit says

        For dedicated fascists, armed thuggery to put down democratic voting doesn’t seem ‘objectionable’ at all. All the usual EUnuchs (Mogheini, Mr Druncky, Barosso etc) were queing up to approve it.

    • reinertorheit says

      A nice dose of pro-Francoist fascism – with a side-serving of laughable anti-semitic claptrap on the side 🙁 Woeful stuff indeed.

    • Peter says

      Hello LB – The point about Catalonian independence is not what ‘many people’ may want, but what Catalonians want. That is the principle of the right to the self-determination of peoples, including, for example, Bretons, Corsicans, Crimeans, Dombass inhabitants, the Flemish, French Canadians, Kurds, Palestinians, Western Saharans and so on. The list is long. Unfortunately, although what’s good for the goose (Kosovo) should be what’s good for the gander (all the others), the right to self-determination can conflict with other UN Charter principles, such as national sovereignty and the inviolability of international borders. That creates conflict. Resolving the conflict is the messy part.

      Thanks for the link to the article. I read it and certainly don’t recommend it (it’s not about Catalonia or even Israel, but about Jews and their unremittingly evil influence throughout history), but everyone is free to make up their own mind about its arguments.

      • Hello Peter, well that’s just nonsense isn’t it. It’s not about Jews as you claim, it’s about the influence that the racist supremacist state of Israel would have over an independent Catalonia, people who trot out this anti-Semitic claptrap are either useful idiots or scumbags.

        And i and the article is in no way advocating the Spanish govt and their brutal tactics used against the citizens who mostly do not fully understand the situation, very much like my fellow Scots who fall for the independence nonsense while the Scottish govt wants to remain in the tyrannical EU, hence no independence, this quote from the article should help explain that a bit.

        “One should not be under the impression that the criticism of the reactionary, independence movement in Catalonia implies that the Spanish government is somehow ‘resisting imperialism’. The Rajoy regime is rotten to the core. In fact, many analysts suspect they may even be secretly collaborating with the Catalan separatists.”

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          I suspect that a lot of crude Judeophobes who attack ALL Jews for the crimes of the Zionist elite, are actually hasbara operatives working to smear critics of Zionism and Israeli and Diaspora elites as ‘antisemites’.

  3. The all too familiar signs of hegemonic empire building using defamation and lies to pave the way. And, of course, James Le Mesurier has established ‘White Helmets’ in Venezuela…a dead giveaway that something bigger is going on.

  4. reinertorheit says

    Democracy in the EU? Tell ito the ethnic Russian population born in Latvia?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      ‘Unpersons’ dear boy. Unpersons. Fascist Balts, however, are ‘Freedom Lovers’.

    • cirsium says

      Democracy in the EU? Tell it to Mateusz Piskorski, held in detention for two years in Poland?

    • And let’s see how it works when the EU’s pet (I might have got that the wrong way round) , Ukraine, joins the EU.

      • kweladave says

        I’d be astonished if Ukraine were to actually join the EU.

        Seems the US is supplying advanced grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons (Raytheon?) + training to Ukraine army, which now includes the Azov Battalion.

        The neo-nazi Azov Battalion has formed a national core which is both a political party & a street militia that has deployed 600 members into the streets of Kiev to ‘restore law & order’.

        Excellent ‘Real News’ piece but if time constrained, see 5.00– 8.00. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe Crimea better place for your hols rather than Kiev.

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