AP and the Myth of the Voiceless Opposition in Venezuela

One of the lies most relentlessly peddled about Venezuela by the international press is that the opposition is voiceless.

By Joe Emersberger- ZNet
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Former presidential candidate and de-facto opposition leader Henrique Capriles (AP)
Former presidential candidate and de-facto opposition leader Henrique Capriles (AP)

One of the lies most relentlessly peddled about Venezuela by the international press is that the opposition is voiceless. It is certainly true that the government, since the 2002 coup that briefly deposed it, has aggressively worked to alter the media landscape. It has gone from one where an oligarch owned media had so much power that it was able to lead a coup, to the situation today – one in which the opposition still has an edge if you look closely at a detailed study of the TV media by the Carter Center, but nothing like the advantage it had a decade ago.

Careful media studies aside, the ease with which the opposition, in May, spread the Mario Silva recording that it somehow acquired throughout the Venezuelan media dramatically illustrates how very far from voiceless it is.

Widespread public disgust with the private media has also driven change over the past decade, not simply government action.

The private media didn’t just spearhead a coup in 2002. It also supported massive economic sabotage. The international press has used apocalyptic language to describe Venezuela’s current economic woes despite the fact that the economy has grown in 2013. In contrast, during the private media’s onslaught in the early 2000s, Venezuela’s economy contracted by 30% under the combined impact of the coup and economic sabotage. This media led destruction earned press barons and journalists tremendous hostility from millions of people they seriously hurt.

This AP article is typical in the way it depicts the Venezuela government “tightening its grip” on the media. However, a very curious sentence appears in this report:

“Cadena Capriles' founding owners aren't directly related to the politician who shares their last name.”

In other words, the founders of Venezuela’s largest print media conglomerate are related to Henrique Capriles, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition. The author of this article, Fabiola Sanchez, is forced to mention that embarrassing fact. It would be hard, even for AP, to say nothing at all about why this major media conglomerate shares its name with the leader of the opposition. Even casual and not very well informed readers might be left scratching their heads. Sanchez could also not truthfully write “no relation”, so she wrote “not directly related” in a feeble attempt to suppress a small clue as to real nature of the Venezuelan media.

And the lies continue (post municipal election update, Monday, Dec 9):

This AP report grudgingly concedes that the opposition failed to make any significant breakthrough at all in Sunday’s municipal elections. The government and its allies won the majority of the races and the overall popular vote.

Nevertheless, this is AP report about Venezuela, so howlers simply must be included. For example the article claims “Venezuela's economic troubles have deepened, with inflation touching a two-decade high of 54 percent..”

In 1996 (i.e. within two decades ago) the inflation rate in Venezuela was 99.9% according to IMF data. So contrary to what the AP reports, inflation is nowhere close to being at a “two decade high”.

Moreover, an examination of the IMF data cited above shows that inflation averaged about 40% during the 15 year period before Hugo Chavez took office.  Since Chavez first took office, it has averaged roughly 25% even if one includes 2013’s spike in the inflation rate (which is not yet included in the IMF data).

Good luck trying to find those easily verifiable facts anywhere in the corporate media. Lies of omission elsewhere facilitate AP’s brazen dishonesty.