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Opinion and Analysis: International | Media Watch

Spanish Paper El País Makes a Fool of Itself

On Thursday January 24, Spanish newspaper El País published a front page headline screaming "the secret of Chavez's health" accompanied by a picture of a man, eyes closed, lying in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of his mouth.

The picture, occupying more than a third of the front page was captioned: "President Chávez during medical treatment in Cuba". This sensationalist picture and headline was calculated to cause maximum impact and to demoralise Chávez supporters at a time when all the official news are that the president is well into his recovery and preparing to be transferred to Caracas.

They went to the extent of putting a watermark on the picture and marking it "no unauthorised reproduction". A further explanatory note on El País website read "Venezuelan President Chavez's illness has been shrouded in opacity since he travelled to Havana on December 10 and has created a political polemic in his country. El Pais offers an unpublished and exclusive picture, taken a few days ago, showing an initial moment of his medical treatment in Cuba".

We did not expect less from El País, a newspaper which supported the Venezuelan right wing coup in April 2002 and which has distinguished itself by the fierce defence of Spanish multinational interests in Latin America and vitriolic attacks on those governments which have challenged them and carried out expropriations.

There was only one small problem. The picture was a fake. The man shown is not Chavez. The Spanish newspaper had to withdraw it from its website, publish an apology and furthermore recall the whole of its printed edition which was already being sent to the newsagents and replace it by another one.

The Venezuelan government has since responded, with Minister of Communication Ernesto Villegas calling the photo “as grotesque as it is false” on his twitter account. He further rhetorically asked, “Would El País publish a similar photo of a European leader, or its director? [It seems] yellow press is valid if the victim is a South American revolutionary”.

Here is yet another example of the type of lies, half-truths and slanders which the capitalist mass media will not hesitate in using in their disgusting campaign against the Bolivarian revolution. These are the same media which have waged a noisy campaign about the so-called "attacks on freedom of the media" in Venezuela. What is really at stake is the right to truthful information, as shown by this example. Once more we say, as loudly as we can: Hands Off Venezuela!!

Written by Hands off Venezuela. Venezuelan government comments reported by Venezuelanalysis.com.