An Extremely Newsworthy Op-Ed in Venezuela, or So One would Think

If most people in English speaking countries believe that the media is far less free in Venezuela than in their own countries, it actually highlights the deplorable state of press freedom in their own.

By Joe Emersberger - Zblogs
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A cover from Ultimas Noticias (UN / archive)
A cover from Ultimas Noticias (UN / archive)

An op-ed in Ultimas Noticias (20/3/14), Venezuela’s largest circulating newspaper, stated that “One can’t keep playing around with Maduro’s assassin government and its insincere calls for peace”.

It goes on to state that Maduro’s government will go down in history as one of the most murderous and dictatorial ever, and makes a thinly veiled call for its unconstitutional ouster.

How does a vehemently anti-government op-ed like this appear in Venezuela’s largest newspaper when Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Venezuela 116 out of 179 in its “freedom of expression” index?

The international corporate press eagerly bolsters RSF’s assessment and prominently reports any allegation of censorship by the Maduro government, as it did with the Chavez government. But if international reporters have integrity, and believe their own coverage, shouldn’t this op-ed be deemed extremely newsworthy? Doesn’t the appearance of this op-ed reveal a spectacular act of courage on the part of both the author and Ultimas Noticias? In fact, it doesn’t.

The author of the op-ed appears regularly in Ultimas Noticas as do similar authors like [prominent opposition politician] Antonio Ledezma.  The op-ed is noteworthy only because it exposes the remarkable dishonesty of RSF and the international corporate media.  

Ultimas Noticas also a published an investigative report in February that led to the arrests of government agents implicated in the killing of a protester. In May of last year, it published that transcript of a private conversation in which a prominent government supporter, Mario Silva, talked about corruption within government ranks and named prominent allies of Maduro’s government.

You can literally read Ultimas Noticas on any random day and find reporting and op-eds that completely demolish the lies peddled by RSF and international media about the state of press freedom in Venezuela.

Foreign reporters in Venezuela who are honest and not ideologically hostile to the Maduro government, may indeed face resource constraints that prevent them from seeking out some stories that contradict the prevailing distortions. Wealthy, urban based, English speaking government opponents have many ways to make their stories and opinions readily and economically available to foreign journalists. However, that can’t excuse failing to inform readers about what regularly appears in an outlet like Ultimas Noticias. If most people in English speaking countries believe that the media is far less free in Venezuela than in their own countries, it actually highlights the deplorable state of press freedom in their own.