While Venezuela’s politics remains polarized and divided between the pro- and anti-Maduro camps, mainstream media outlets conspicuously failed to mention the scale of pro-government Chavistas and omitted their voices in the debate in favor of anti-government protesters.
CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times and Reuters all reported thousands of anti-government protesters flooding the streets amid widespread economic problems blamed on the Maduro government.
CNN cited numbers from opposition group Democratic Unity, or MUD, who said that more than 1 million people took part. They also cited government news agency AVN, who quoted 30,000 protesters. But CNN made no reference to pro-government Chavistas who also took to the streets.
The New York Times made no mention of pro-government supporters, and none of the mainstream sources estimated how many pro-government supporters were present at the march.
The Guardian only mentioned Chavistas who were present at the end of their article. The only image of pro-government supporters showed them clashing with police. Throughout the article, Maduro was painted as the leader of an uncooperative government in dealing with the opposition.
The New York Times featured the dire personal stories of opposition protesters throughout its article, but viewpoints of pro-government supporters were not included.
All of the mainstream media sources emphasised that the anti-government protesters were peaceful and from all parts of society. The Guardian mentioned many anti-government protesters carrying Venezuelan flags and wearing white T-Shirts as a sign of peace.
The New York Times also portrayed the supposedly “peaceful” nature of anti-government protesters. Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez who is serving time for planning and then promoting violent blockades in the country in 2014 that claimed the lives of 43 people, injuring hundreds and causing billions in damage to public buildings and infrastructure, in an attached video called the protests “a desire for peaceful change. What you can see is calm.”
None of these mainstream outlets mentioned that on Tuesday in some parts of Caracas, anti-government protests became violent, with some caught on film burning cars and debris, trying to close down streets, throwing molotov cocktails and attacking police.
The Guardian article referenced several opposition leaders who were detained ahead of the protests for planning to carry out violence. It quoted Maduro’s counter address, saying that he would arrest “anyone suspected of being involved in a possible coup.” Never mind that a coup would be illegal.
CNN and The New York Times also hinted at a government crackdown on opposition supporters.
Reuters captured the feelings of many angry anti-government protesters, but actually managed to quote a single Chavista who blamed the economic crisis on big business, which is responsible for helping create and exacerbate the economic crisis that the opposition is trying to politically benefit from.