At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
— excerpt from the statement of Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper on the death of Hugo Chávez1
De mortuis nihil nisi bonum (roughly translated: Never speak ill of the dead).
Newspapers are retrenching. Readership is evaporating. There are likeliest two main reasons for this. One is that readers recognize monopoly media as depicting news skewed to the whims that the ownership and advertisers want presented, twisted, or omitted. A second reason is that an alternative has become ubiquitous in many countries. The internet does not require a subscription. Readers have choice. Progressivist perspectives are available. Corporate and state entities (usually in cahoots) do not have complete control over the internet, although they would like to achieve such control.
The net is likely to pressure even television, as video has become commonplace online. A recent CBC News item on the passing away of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez provides a classic example of why so many media consumers turn away from monopoly media.2
There is enough information presented such that the CBC News piece may claim balance. However, is the truth best represented by a balance? If the sea is muddy brown, should information still be presented of the sea being azure blue to provide balance despite the counter-information being factually false? Balance can serve as a canard. Therefore, a media consumer needs to maintain an appropriate skepticism as to whether news actually is balanced or whether that balance is actually a skew.
The CBC News presents opposing views, but to the discerning reader, there is a palpable skew.
CBC News writes, “… many Venezuelans are divided over Chavez’s legacy…” It also states, “… Chavez created a socialist, anti-American regime that polarized both Venezuelans themselves and the world around them.”
I wonder in what country there is unanimity about a leader’s legacy? Are Americans undivided about George W. Bush? Are Britons undivided about Tony Blair? Are Danes undivided about Anders Fogh Rasmussen? Are Japanese undivided about Junichiro Koizumi? Why then did CBC state the obvious? What was the purpose? Does socialist sentiment not exist within all capitalist countries? Does the CBC ever refer to the Canadian government as an anti-Venezuelan regime? If not, one can logically assume that the rhetoric is biased. In this case, the bias points to being opposed to socialism and against governments, no matter how democratic (the CBC reports this despite being fully aware that the current right-wing Canadian government is very assailable on its democratic credentials having won the last election using deceitful robocalls to send voters to the wrong balloting stations3 ) that threaten an unchallenged world capitalism.
Approximately midway through the article appears a blurb encouraging further reading: “Can Hugo Chavez’s high-stakes revolution survive his death?”
High stakes? A source in the Canadian military confided to me some years back that the Canadian military was poised to participate in the overthrow of Chávez’s government in Venezuela, and, of course, although the source did not say so, the orders were coming from south of the border. Why is the revolution high stakes, and for who is it high stakes? The poor have little to lose and much to gain. The 1%-ers, however, stand to lose their ill-begotten wealth, ill-begotten because it is gained through exploitation of workers. Socialism is anathema to the 1%; it threatens their perch at the top of the capitalist pecking order, and it is therefore resisted unrelentingly by the 1%-ers. Consequently, the seed of Venezuelan socialism is a threat to 1%-ers the world over. Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution has been a beacon of hope to the masses of people seeking to share equitably in the wealth of their country. Other South Ixachilan [American] states have shifted leftward.
The CBC reports:
“His legacy has two faces,” Venezuelan journalist Mary Triny Mena told CBC News. Some Venezuelans saw Chavez as a hero who understood the needs of the poor, launching several initiatives to help the impoverished. But his time in power, she said, was marked by a disrespect of basic human rights.
It is the same skewed rhetoric. After all, whose legacy has only one face in all people’s eyes?
And just who is this veteran Venezuelan journalist? Mary Triny Mena, who is decidedly unsympathetic to Chávez, is an investigative reporter for Venezuela’s Globovision, a TV station that is vehemently anti-Chávez.4
CBC proffers further criticism of Chávez:
Human Rights Watch, an organization working to protect human rights, said in a statement after Chavez’s death that his presidency was characterized by “open disregard for basic human rights guarantees.”
What is the “open disregard” and where is the evidence to support Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s allegation? Is merely citing a source supposed to be persuasive without even mentioning what the alleged human rights abuses are? And how about HRW? The name is high falutin’, but which agenda does HRW serve?5
The CBC demonstrates that when it wants to buttress its viewpoint6 that there are organizations and personalities kept on hand and made available by the 1% for media presentation, and this is entirely expected since the 1% has the cash and the media to push its agenda.
The guns and levers of capitalism, through the auspices of Big Oil and the government-military-industrial complex, now visualize a window of opportunity to repeal the Bolivarian Revolution. The CBC reports, “The most significant trait of authoritarian leaders is leaving behind very weak establishments…”
Implied is that the serially elected Hugh Chávez is an authoritarian. Dictionary.com defines “authoritarianism” as “favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom.” It is hard to square the circle of providing literacy, education, health care, land distribution for the those without land, poverty reduction, and allowing for open elections with the charge of authoritarianism. That is a charge the seems to stick better to countries where robocalls and hanging chads help enable the election of warmongering leaders.7
Insofar as a revolution becomes embodied in a personality, a revolution’s gains are always tenuous. For this reason I opposed Chávez’s extension of the term limits of the Venezuelan presidency. I reasoned that it was more important that the revolution be entrenched in the people, that the people lead the revolution, and that Chávez could be a guiding hand in that process and not the hand of the process.8
Consequently, Chávez’s replacement will be opposed by 1%-ers. CBC complains that vice-president Nicolás Maduro “lacks the vibrant personality,” and he doesn’t have the charisma. The CBC portrays the Venezuelan people as simpletons — attracted to charismatic leaders, as though policy and political direction were distant after-thoughts compared to the character of the president.
The CBC further casts an ominous shadow over the Venezuelan political situation by questioning Maduro’s filling the post of president until a new presidential election can be called, as if the next-in-line for the prime ministership in Canada would fall to anyone but the governing party’s number 2 or that someone other than the vice-president would succeed a deceased president in the United States.
The CBC plants the journalistic seeds for a counter-revolution claiming “… many Venezuelans want to see massive change in the country.”
The Bolivarian Revolution, claims the CBC, contains lingering anti-American sentiments. The anti-American evidence?
During his 14-year reign, Chavez established himself as an anti-American. In a speech before the UN General Assembly in 2006, he famously called U.S. President George W. Bush a donkey and the devil. Chavez called U.S. President Barack Obama a clown.
Since when does criticism of a country’s leader denote opposition to the rest of the country’s people? Many Americans say far worse about their presidents. Furthermore, “donkey,” “devil,” and “clown” are pretty mild epithets for men who presided and still preside over armies wreaking murderous havoc abroad. It was the US which applauded the coup that briefly unseated Chávez in Venezuela until a people power mass rally brought him back to the presidency (speaking volumes to American fidelity to the principle of democracy).
“Chavez,” states the CBC article, “distinguished himself through his anti-American platform …” I visited Venezuela along with my colleagues in 2006 and witnessed first-hand the progressivist changes taking place in Venezuela and the sanguinity of Venezuelans for the future of their country.9
Is there any wonder why the capitalist media refuses to acknowledge and celebrate the sharing of prosperity among the masses? Equality threatens to topple elitist perches and be replaced with a shared view. Elitist-owned and controlled media will fight egalitarianism. Hence, people must be vigilant; they must question their information sources; and they must demand their rights to share in the wealth of their country. Prosperity is not meant to be an enclave of 1%; it is meant for all people.
For this reason, the revolution must proceed onward in Venezuela, and it must spread throughout the world, including the bastions of capitalism.
- “Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías,” 5 March 2013.
The reaction from the people of Venezuela: Mike Blanchfield, “Venezuela slams Harper for insensitive statement on death of Chavez,” Tyee, 6 March 2013.
Thanks to DV coeditor Angie Tibbs who brought the Harper statement to my attention and suggested it be made “clear that Venezuelans were the 5th happiest country on earth according to a Gallop poll, and that Mr. Chavez was NOT any sort of impediment to a “better future”; he was, in fact, responsible for the brighter and better present day. [↩]
- “Thousands mourn Hugo Chavez’s death in Caracas, CBC News, 6 March 2013. [↩]
- See “Stephen Harper’s ‘Nixonian culture’ to blame for illegal robocall scandal: Rae,” National Post, 23 February 2012. [↩]
- One need look no further that the BBC: “Anti-Chavez Venezuelan TV Globovision pays $2.1m fine,” BBC News, 29 June 2012. See also Chris Carlson, “Venezuela Launches Digital Television, Excludes Globovisión,” Venezuela Analysis, 22 February 2013. [↩]
- HRW is a US-based NGO created and funded by the 1%-er Georg Soros. It is eminently criticizable for its (lack of ) fairness. See, e.g., Jonathan Cook, “How Human Rights Watch Lost its Way in Lebanon,” Dissident Voice, 11 September 2006 and David Swanson, “Years Later: Human Rights Watch Announces That Bush and Cheney Tortured: What Gives?,” Dissident Voice, 13 July 2011. [↩]
- I submit that since the CBC is a state entity, and since the state is run by politicians, and since the politicians are dependent on money to become elected and upon media to curry the favor of voters that logic points to the CBC viewpoint being under the direction of the 1%-ers. [↩]
- Henry Giroux provides an excellent examination of authoritarianism in his Against the New Authoritarianism: Politics After Abu Ghraib (Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2005). [↩]
- See Kim Petersen, “A Presidency without Term Limits: The Slippery Slope to Demagoguery,” Dissident Voice, 12 December 2007. [↩]
- See Joshua Frank, Kim Petersen, and Sunil K. Sharma, “Revolution of Hope,” Dissident Voice, 10 August 2006. [↩]