In the run-up to the presidential elections this October, the opposition in Venezuela have reverted to using the private media to spearhead their attempt at a victory which, according to opinion polls and the general public, seems less and less likely every day.
An article recently published here in Venezuela, pointed out that Hugo Chavez’s undeniable lead in all opinion polls has generated desperation and alarm amongst the opposition camps.
According to the article – printed on 25 March in the newspaper Vea – the more conservative elements of the country employed the same strategy in 2002; in an attempt to remove Chávez from power, they used the private media, which was, in reality, appropriated by opposition political parties.
Now, it says, “the middle classes are back with their violent and destabilising exploits, this time to secure three possible scenarios: a triumph in the future elections, a coup d’état or foreign intervention”.
The role of media affiliated to the opposition is crucial in all of these possible outcomes.
Newspapers with a national circulation, including El Nacional, El Universal and Tal Cual amongst others, and television networks such as Globovisión, are their standard bearers, as has been repeatedly reflected in headlines over the last few months.
A recent article published in Rebelión states that the focus of the opposition media regarding national issues follows the directives of the so-called “Agenda Setting” initiated in the United States, where these operations of psychological war against Venezuela are developed.
According to the article, a perfect coordination and synchronisation in these operations can be noted between external reports, marked by an emphasis on the potentially fatal outcome of Chavez’s illness, and the internal reports, dedicated to showing a young, sane candidate in contrast with a sickly president.
According to Mario Silva – host of the program “La Hojilla” on Venezolana de Televisión – an international media campaign against the Bolivarian Revolution and against Chávez, is being played out by Israel and the United States with the collaboration of several media mercenaries.
What is certain is that the Venezuelan private media repeatedly insist on highlighting the precarious health of the President, the existence of internal disputes over the election of a successor to Chávez, public insecurity, the shortage of government programmes and the lack of public services, amongst other things.
According to the above mentioned article in the newspaper Vea, “the bourgeoisie and the media at their disposal have embarked on a constant outpour of sabotage and terrorism intended, fundamentally, to condition the middle and upper classes of our country, as well as those of the United States”, to express themselves publicly when the moment arises.
“In our country t continues on the streets with strikes and demonstrations, and in the United States with public statements from their political representatives; all of them legitimising, ultimately, a coup or foreign intervention”.
In the opinion of the journalist and former Vice President of the government (2002 – 2007), Jose Vicente Rangel, the right have a plan with two fronts: on the one hand they take part in the democratic process and, on the other, they promote destabilising action, employing discrediting propaganda and other clearly foreign formats.
On 26 March, in the newspaper Últimas Noticias, Rangel used his column to criticise the opposition’s strategy of contaminating the electoral environment, terrorising the population and taking all democratic quality out of the tate and its institutions He considers this tactic a danger to the stability of the elections on7 October.
For the first time a bid for the presidency has a transnational character, he declares, and goes on confirm the dependency of the opposition on direction from abroad.
In that regard, he suggests, the “Venezuelan elections transcend the borders. It becomes the business of the governments of the United States and the European Union. For Congress and American defence and intelligence bodies it is a priority”
The day before, on his Sunday programme, the well-known journalist José Vicente Hoy, from the television station Televén, stated that the media campaigns created by the private sector and the opposition encouraged violence by spreading distorted news stories.
The actions of the media in the political scene have caused reaction in diverse circles of Venezuelan society, an example of which is an article dedicated to the topic by the author and National Prize for Literature winner Luis Britto García.
“Some broadcasters hope to remain immune” from the international precepts of human rights, he expressed in an article published on 25 March in the newspaper Últimas Noticias.
After maintaining that “certain media exercise a media dictatorship”, Britto went on to emphasise the interest of these economic groups in “playing the role of the three classic powers of the state themselves”.
“They decide which laws count and which don’t, they invent government decisions or deny those that are made, they condemn without defence or appeal and on top of that they exercise these absolute powers without democratic referendum or responsibility”, he stated.
For José Vicente Rangel, the situation is complex, and for that reason he highlighted the need to “play clean and avoid traps” with an end to guaranteeing not only the stability of the electoral process, but also the political and social tranquillity of the nation.
Venezuelahe saidadvances along the road of a delicate and difficult electoral process and the role that the mass media plays will determine whether the elections unfold in peace or in violence.
(Translated by Philip Brignall – Email: email@example.com)