How does the right wing repeatedly lose elections? Is everything we read about Maduro and his government true? Who is responsible for the wave of negative news about this country? What role does the European Union play? These are the questions about Venezuela that are often left unasked and unanswered.
Interview and photos: Marcos Ortiz F.
The notion of an economic war, identified by Venezuela as the principle cause of its financial problems, has been repeated again and again on the streets of Caracas.
However, there is another, less widely discussed phenomenon that directly affects the world’s perception of this country of 32 million people.
In an extensive interview given to the BBC, Venezuelan Communication Minister Jorge Rodríguez revealed a surprising statistic. In 2017, in Spain alone, 3,880 negative news articles were published about Venezuela.
A revealing phrase accompanied his criticisms: “There is a media war, a psychological war, almost even a lynch mob out against Venezuela”.
In the world press, it’s not uncommon to read alarming articles that describe this Caribbean nation as the closest place to Hell on Earth.
“It’s not that Venezuela doesn’t want to defend itself. The country can defend itself well when it has to. Unfortunately, it has neither the system nor sufficient resources or an appropriate task force for a revolution on that scale”. Francisco Domínguez, academic and National Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, spoke to The Prisma. He explains some of the reasons behind this perception.
“There has been a terrible 20-year-long campaign demonising Venezuelan politicians, starting with Chávez and ending with Maduro. Currently, the media is peddling a completely dishonest narrative that contradicts what they said previously. Now, they claim that Chávez was a guy that did good things, who tried to improve the country’s situation and who must be acknowledged as such, even though they never acknowledged it in the past. Never. For 14 years, they said that Chávez was the worst thing that could have happened to Venezuela”, he says.
“86% of the world’s news comes from six multinational media companies. National media outlets like the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and France 24, must also be mentioned. These companies contribute to the problem as they repeat what is written elsewhere. Reuters writes one article that is then instantly reproduced in millions of different forms across the globe. There’s not much that can be done to combat this, except trying to tell the truth”.
This is why positive articles, for example about the two million council houses built and supplied by the government, the range of measures introduced to fight the economic crisis and the release of a significant number of opponents, are like needles in a haystack of damaging articles.
A fractured right wing
How then, in a situation that is so favorable to them, can the Right have lost 23 of the 25 elections held since the establishment of the Bolivarian Revolution?
“The fundamental reason why the right wing is in the state that it is in, after being in such a good position in 2015, is because they listen to and follow the advice of the US Americans. If it is truly necessary to accuse someone of acting idiotically, it should be the US Americans”, says Domínguez, co-editor of Right-wing politics in the New Latin America.
“Unfortunately for the Venezuelan right-wing parties, especially the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD by its Spanish acronym), they are completely subservient to Washington. There is sufficient evidence to show this. In the confusion following Chávez’s death, the political, economic and social climate was highly disadvantageous for Maduro and advantageous for the right wing. However, they squandered the opportunity for political manoeuvres”, says Domínguez.
The academic talks about the opposition, part of which refrained from participating in the 20 May elections, in strong terms:L “They focused on overthrowing the government by all means imaginable, including violent means, which constantly discredited them, even amongst their own supporters. In the confrontation between Chávez’s government and the US empire, MUD was politically destroyed by its intimacy with, and by the stupidity of, the US Americans. It seems like a democratic opposition, but really it is not”.
He concluded, “Of all the South American right wing, the Venezuelan Right is in the worst condition despite Venezuela being the most lambasted country on the continent. It is an interesting paradox which shows how incompetent they are”.
Washington and the European Union
The strained relations between Caracas and Washington, which Maduro accuses of orchestrating the media and economic war against him, have not improved following the presidential elections.
“The aggression mainly comes from Washington. That is not to say that others aren’t also taking part. Argentina’s Macri and Brazil’s Temer are very happy to join in , but it is the imperial, media, political and financial support from the United States that strengthens the Venezuelan opposition” indicates Domínguez, who also criticises EU actions.
“But there is nothing in the world that legitimises the US foreign policy of aggression against any part of the world, including Venezuela, more than the subservient support that the US receives from the European Union. It would not be a problem if the EU were to develop its own foreign policy, potentially also one critical of the Chavista government – there is no problem with this – as this independent attitude would drastically isolate the USA. The United States continues to overstep its boundaries thanks to the support it receives from Europe”, he adds.
A fresh start
Following the elections, Nicolás Maduro was quick to pass a series of measures, which he stated in speeches were part of a “fresh start”. As well as releasing prisoners and reshuffling the cabinet, he also sent a direct message to Donald Trump’s administration.
“Maduro made two announcements”, said Domínguez. “The first”, he explained, “was to declare persona non grata Todd Robinson and Brian Naranjo, who were organising a transport strike to complicate the election and to upset the economy. He gave them 48 hours to leave. With the empire, Maduro adopted a tough stance. No one meddles with Venezuela; there will be no concessions”.
At the same time, the re-elected president maintained his call for dialogue.
“Since December 2013, Maduro has appealed to the Venezuelan opposition around 400 times to begin dialogue. In his latest appeal, he even addressed the opposition outside of Venezuela that boycotted the election and call for military invasions. In other words, Maduro’s politics is centred around dialogue. Dialogue will allow everything that can be done within the constitution to be done”, adds the academic.
And says: “This method is the most beneficial for Maduro and the least beneficial for the United States. The call for dialogue is clearly weakening the right wing, although this was not intentional. What interests Maduro is peace, to be able to truly resolve the country’s problems and continue onwards”.
(Translated by Zosia Niedermaier-Reed – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)