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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Robin Hahnel on Venezuela

This is a very long analytical article from the Monthly Review. I have simply excerpted the first couple of paragraphs that deal with mainstream press bias when reporting on events in Venezuela.


Venezuela: Not What You Think
by Robin Hahnel
In the case of Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution, the mainstream media and politicians in the United States have elevated their game of demonizing all who oppose US foreign policy and business interests to a higher level of absurdity than usual. According to the mainstream media, the only newsworthy stories in Venezuela are one sided diatribes lifted from the discredited, opposition-owned media in Venezuela. For example, we read about Chavez shutting down opposition TV stations. We hear that Chavez is rewriting the Venezuelan Constitution so he can be President for life. Chavez is a dictator, QED.

All the badly outgunned, alternative media in the US can do is try its best to rebut the bias in the storylines defined by the mainstream media. The tiny fraction of Americans who visit the alternative media discover that Chavez has submitted a proposal to change the Venezuelan Constitution in a number of ways, one of which is to eliminate term limits on the office of President. All changes will first have to be approved by the democratically elected Venezuelan National Assembly, and then also approved in a popular referendum before they become law. Only Americans who search out the alternative media discover that Hugo Chavez was elected President by a comfortable margin in 1998, survived an opposition-sponsored recall in 2004, and most recently was re-elected in December 2006 with more than 60% of the vote. International observers certified all three elections as fair and square. George Bush, on the other hand, was selected President by a partisan Supreme Court after losing the popular vote in 2000, and won re-election only because enough black voters in Ohio were disenfranchised by a partisan Republican official to keep the Buckeye State in the Republican column in 2004. Few observers believe Bush could survive a recall election today, but of course this basic element of democratic rule is not permitted by the US Constitution. Nonetheless, the only storyline ninety-nine percent of Americans hear remains: Hugo Chavez is a dictator and George Bush is the democratically elected leader of the free world.

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