24 February 2005

Venezuela's propaganda machine sending mixed signals

London 24.02.05 | The image of failed coupster Hugo Chavez is taking a proper battering these days. For the first time since his ascent to Venezuela's presidency some of the world's most powerful media outlets have been publishing articles that show a reality heretofore thought to be gross exaggerations or desperate ranting of a dislocated opposition. We have been denouncing the authoritarian streaks of lieutenant colonel Chavez to no avail. Things are changing though. The capture in Venezuela of Peru's official security apparatus boss Wladimiro Montesinos was taken very lightly by the international community. It was considered an isolated event. Then came the arrest of aero-pirate Ballestas, also overlooked and played down. But Rodrigo Granda's capture in Caracas and subsequent diplomatic spat with Colombia have placed the burden of the proof on president Chavez shoulders.

The world media's focus picked up on the arrest of FARC leader and a very clumsy official reaction on the Venezuelan part only served to reinforce apprehensions with respect to its deep and troubling connections with terrorism. As it happens Rodrigo Granda, naturalized Venezuelan citizen courtesy of the Chavez administration, is implicated in the kidnapping and assassination of Cecilia Cubas, daughter of former Paraguayan president Raul Cubas. Allegedly he had an active role in Cecilia Cubas kidnapping whilst residing in Venezuela. In sum the truth about the relationship of Hugo Chavez with Colombia's narcoterrorists has been revealed.

Aggression has been stepped up in other fronts; army raids to confiscate private properties; oppression of criticism and dissent by way of passing draconian media laws; imprisonment and disappearance of political opponents; in sum president Chavez, taking stock of Marta Harnecker's words of advice, is wasting no time in the radicalization of his pseudo revolution. Evidence about the huge electoral fraud conducted by official authorities has also surfaced; moreover Chavez himself admitted that had the nationalization plan (known as Mision Identidad) failed he would have lost the recall referendum.

A detached and observant media has been recording the events all along which has translated in articles, editorials and opinion pieces that, based on facts, are driving the inanity propagating voices of the Chavez administration absolutely crazy. The mechanisms for counteracting the odd unfavourable article used to be handled by a very small group of agents employed by the Venezuelan regime in Washington DC. However, the Venezuela Information Office's staff can barely cope with the avalanche of 'bad news' nowadays. By the time they produce a 'coherent' response to a given article five others have appeared. Lacking talent and output capacity they seem to have recourse to official help. Other equally active spinmeisters are to be found in Venezuelanalysis.com, Vheadline.com, Axisoflogic.com and Venezuelafoia.info. Save axisoflogic the members of the aforementioned websites have working relationships with the Chavez administration; Venezuelanalysis and Vheadline do not hide the source of their funding and Venezuelafoia's main collaborator -Eva Golinger- is so deep with the regime that none of her arguments can be taken as impartial observations.

Curiously there exists divergence of opinions within the propagandistic apparatchiks. Roy Carson editor of Vheadline (a.k.a. Carlos Herrera) reappeared after a short hiatus during which funds were requested to Andres Izarra Venezuela's Information Minister. On his website one can read very many opinion articles centered on the imminent invasion of Venezuela by US forces. The driving force behind the alleged invasion and subsequent assassination of Colonel Chavez is, in Carson's view, the vast energy reserves of the country. Without providing one shred of evidence Carson pounds day in and day out about the enemies of Venezuela, invasion, wars, assassination plots, expropriation of resources and other themes. However his predicament could not be furthest from the 'truth' reported by the writers of Venezuelanalysis who in turn maintain a coordinated effort to convince their readership that a) Venezuela will not sale its energy assets in the US (CITGO); b) that Venezuela has the most cordial of relationships with oil companies; c) that PDVSA partnership with foreign conglomerates in energy projects is in an ever increasing curve; d) that Venezuela celebrates and welcomes foreign investment in the energy sector and e) that Venezuela is a reliable oil supplier. The outlook, tone and manner of Venezuelanalysis' reporters are equally distant from those of Carson and his alter egos. Whilst 'chic' logos of PDVSA and ConocoPhillips are displayed on Venezuelanalysis Vheadline continues bashing the Big Oil lobby.

However, as it happens in any autocracy, the word that counts and the one that carries weight is that of Hugo Chavez. Thus whatever achievement in the 'media war' that his asinine employees mark is shattered in a couple of hours of his Sunday's telethon "Alo President". Apart from having to 'refute' the arguments brought forth by international commentarists Chavez apologists have to devote half of their time to excuse the boss. Other similarly damaging issues such as stacking of the courts, acquisitions of weapons of war and closure of franchises have painted a worrying sign in the face of the international community.

So what does a revolutionary lieutenant do? He cries bloody murder foolishly thinking that somebody, taken into account his anti-democratic preceding actions, will take pity and empathize with his void predicament. Another technique that has proven successful is that of killing the messenger. Thence the speakers of the Venezuelan government dismiss those who have dissimilar stances as paid agents at the service of imperialism, read the USA. Of course such futile accusations coming from the Chavez camp flight into the realm of preposterousness for the very same voices condemning criticism are demonstrably paid advocates of Chavez. Furthermore none of them can deny the acts for which Chavez is being criticized.

Andres Izarra, at the helm of the counteracting effort, utilizing highly questionable sources such as once guest of the regime Justin Delacour or VIO employee Andres Mateo Jarrin, denounces that the US media is waging a war whose aim is to isolate Venezuela. He fails to mention that Venezuela under Chavez has become the annoying neighbour; the country that uses its abundant oil income to destabilize other democratically elected governments of the region. But who is this Andres Izarra? Has he got the appropriate profile for such a job? Son of one of the ideologues of the 'revolution' (the Venezuelan voice of the asymmetric war) Izarra's curriculum is equal to that of any up and coming chavista; absolute lacking of credentials but infinite capacity to suck it up to the boss, a fine exponent of the perfect yes-man. Ergo can his comments and denouncements be taken seriously? Go figure...

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