Eduardo Galeano Speaks on the Venezuelan Media

In this interview excerpt, Eduardo Galeano explains why he has described Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as a “strange dictator”, recounting his own experience as an election observer in Venezuela and describing the political role played by the opposition media in Venezuela.

During a recent talk between Ignacio Kostzer, president of the University Federation of Buenos Aires [FUBA] and Juan Manuel Karg, secretary of Latin American Integration of the FUBA, the prestigious writer Eduardo Galeano gave an interesting summary of the position of the hegemonic media in Venezuela.

He analysed the recent history of the Bolivarian process, the coup d’état in 2002, and the opposition’s media manipulation.

“The president had returned, there were millions of people in the streets. And the private media communicated what was convenient for them…their vision of the world is dictated by those who rule, and those who rule, who demand that the world be seen upside-down.”

Here we include a part of the interview with Galeano, carried out …by FUBA, as an example for Latin American youth in the construction of an anti-hegemonic grassroots culture.

Juan Manuel Karg: I’ve heard…before coming here we saw a lot of your interviews, because you’re the type of person who expresses himself very well, and about what Ignacio was telling you, about Venezuela, we just saw an interview, I think it was a panel, to tell you the truth, in Italy, where you classify Chavez, as a “strange dictator”, in the sense that…

Eduardo Galeano: Of course, he [Chavez] had won twelve elections. He’s a very strange dictator, because he won twelve elections, cleanly. Because if Franco won elections, and he won them with 115% of the votes (laughs). 120%. They were fraudulent, of course, but these are clean elections. I was an observer at one of those elections, an international observer. They elected me as delegate of the observers and I was following the election step by step, together with Jimmy Carter, who was once president of the U.S, and with Gaviria, of the OAS. The three of them. Myself as an independent observer, and those two, each of them for their organisation. And we spent the whole day and night, until in seven in the morning when we gave a press conference, and the three of us confirmed it. Gaviria wasn’t very convinced at first, but afterwards he had to accept that there wasn’t any concrete information that permitted affirming that that election hadn’t been clean. And well, the three of us affirmed it: the election was clean, and the others as well. I’m sorry for the opposition, no one likes to lose. But they [the elections] weren’t fraudulent. Because if I said, “Chavez won twelve fraudulent elections”, well then yes, of course he’s a dictator. But he’s a “weird dictator” if he won them cleanly.

Juan Manuel Karg: Of course, the point of the question was also to see how the media operate there, that without a doubt there’s a lot of media manipulation, and also what it means and what does the Bolivarian process show , in its biggest achievements, in health and education. You travelled there, could you see these things? What media manipulation exists about the Bolivarian process?

Eduardo Galeano: Well, they have the media against them, in general, don’t they? And the truth is the behaviour of the dominant media in Venezuela isn’t very honourable, as was proven with the coup d’état [in 2002]. When the coup d’état happened, which by the way, Chavez had also attempted a coup d’état [in 1992] and he paid for it with three years in prison. That is, his participation in a military coup wasn’t unpunished. However, those who committed the coup against him, none of them went to prison. And none of them were prisoners because he himself decided that no one would be. And furthermore, the justice system didn’t condemn them because it’s a very unfair justice system. But, what happened with the media during this absurd coup d’état where the “president” of businessmen was “elected” president of the country? Yes it was identical to Mr. Burns (laughs), the businessman of The Simpsons, of Homer Simpson, just the same (laughs). What is this? A television miracle? I’m looking at Mr Burns! And it was…what was his name? Carmona…

Juan Manuel Karg: Pedro Carmona, of Fedecameras [the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce]…

Eduardo Galeano: Yes, Fedecamaras. I remember because the press, the mainstream media in the world reported, “Democracy has returned to Venezuela”, “The dictatorship of Chavez is over”. Well, this euphoria lasted 48 hours, when Chavez retook his place in the [Presidential] Palace Miraflores, in Caracas, the mainstream media didn’t find out. For 24 hours they played cartoons, the main television channels, the main radios, didn’t report the news. The president had returned, there were millions of people in the streets, and the mainstream media didn’t communicate what wasn’t convenient for them to communicate. Even though they are called [in Spanish] communication media. What type of communication is it that this mainstream media cuts off? And this mainstream media is, therefore, suspicious. Sometimes they say the truth, but in general they are mistaken, because they have a vision of the world that is dictated by those who rule. And those who rule, order that the world be seen upside down.

Translation by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com