24March2019

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Venezuela Blitz – Part 1: Tyrants Don’t Have Free Elections

In our new book, we describe a 'Propaganda Blitz' as a fast-moving campaign to persuade the public of the need for 'action' or 'intervention' furthering elite interests. Affecting great moral outrage, corporate media line up to insist that a watershed moment has arrived – something must be done!

A classic propaganda blitz was triggered on January 23, when Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself 'interim President'. This was presented as dramatic new evidence that the people of Venezuela had finally had enough of Nicolas Maduro's 'regime'.

In reporting this news the following day, the BBC website featured a disturbing graphic of a captive with arms tied behind his back being tortured. The caption read:

'Inside Venezuela's secret torture centre'

The image linked to a complex interactive piece that allowed readers to explore the torture centre. There was also a long report on the same centre. The interactive report included this statement by a former prisoner, Rosmit Mantilla:

'In a country like Venezuela there's no difference between being in or out of prison. You are equally persecuted and mistreated, and you can die either way.'

Venezuela, then, is a giant gulag. The interactive piece had clearly taken a good deal of time and effort to produce – odd that it should appear on the same day that news of Guaidó's coup attempt was reported. The BBC followed this up with a piece on January 25 openly promoting 'regime' change:

'Venezuela's Maduro "could get Amnesty"

'Self-declared leader Guaidó also appeals to the powerful army, after receiving foreign backing.'

In fact, Guaidó, also received foreign rejection from China, Russia, Turkey, Greece, Syria and Iran. On January 29, the BBC front page headline read:

'Venezuela, "living under dictatorship"

'The opposition leader tells the BBC President Maduro has abused power, and renews calls for polls.'

Echoing the BBC's 'amnesty' front page story, the Guardian's Simon Tisdall, also talked up the merits of the coup:

'It seems clear that Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader, has the backing of many if not most Venezuelans.'

A remarkable claim, given that George Ciccariello-Maher reported in The Nation that an opinion poll in Venezuela conducted between January 7-16 had found that 81 per cent of Venezuelans had never heard of Juan Guaidó. But then this is the same Simon Tisdall who wrote in 2011:

'The risky western intervention had worked. And Libya was liberated at last.'

The Guardian may currently be Guaidó's greatest UK cheerleader. After the opposition leader gave the paper an exclusive interview, former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook tweeted:

'Extraordinary even by the Guardian's standards. Juan Guaido, the CIA's pick to lead a coup against Venezuela's govt, gives the paper one of his first interviews – and it simply acts as a conduit for his propaganda. It doesn't even pretend to be a watchdog'

On February 1, Cook added:

'Oh look! Juan Guaido, the figurehead for the CIA's illegal regime-change operation intended to grab Venezuela's oil (as John Bolton has publicly conceded), is again presented breathlessly by the Guardian as the country's saviour'

The BBC continues to administer a daily dose of propaganda. On January 31, the big morning news story was:

'Venezuela opposition "speaking to army"

'Opposition leader Juan Guaidó says his team has held talks with the army about regime change'

As we noted, if a US version of Guaidó made that admission in public, he would soon be paid a visit by Navy Seals, perhaps shot on the spot and dumped at sea, or bundled away to a life on death row for probable later execution.

On February 4, the front page of the BBC website featured a heroic picture of Guaido's mother kissing her son on the forehead at a protest rally. Sombre, stoic, the saviour's head appears bowed by the weight of the hopes and expectations of his people (people who, until recently, had no idea who he was and had never voted for him). This was a pure propaganda image. More will certainly follow. We discussed earlier BBC efforts here.

 

Read more: Venezuela Blitz – Part 1: Tyrants Don’t Have Free Elections

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