Both Sides of Amendment Campaign Claim Other Side Had Advantage

While Chavez supporters argue that the opposition had the advantage
during the amendment campaign because of their dominance over the
media, the opposition is arguing that the “Yes” side used government
resources in its campaign and is proposing a law against such “abuse”.

By Tamara Pearson - Venezuelanalysis.com

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Jesse Chacon, minister for communications, with a graph illustrating the inequality of coverage in the media. (ABN)
Jesse Chacon, minister for communications, with a graph illustrating the inequality of coverage in the media. (ABN)
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Mérida, February 18, 2009 (venezuelanalysis.com)-- While Chavez supporters argue that the opposition had the advantage during the amendment campaign because of their dominance over the media, the opposition is arguing that the “Yes” side used government resources in its campaign and is proposing a law against such “abuse”.

According to Jesse Chacon, who was in charge of communication and propaganda for the Simon Bolivar campaign in support of a yes vote to the amendment, the opposition had 71% of the coverage in the print and TV media.

A study by the Media Observatory showed that 78% of the print media had articles supporting the No option. Of the 100 latest articles in Caracas, 77 favored the No option, a study by another group, Intelligent Environment, revealed.

The same study also found an imbalance of 73% of television media in favor of No, and that the stations with most balance during the campaign were the private TV stations Televen and Venevision.

This “information imbalance that the reports of some companies dedicated to monitoring the media have revealed, puts the revolutionary block at a great disadvantage, quite the opposite of what the opposition sectors wanted to show,” Chacon said.

“Maybe the Yes option would have won by a margin of 60% to 40% if it had had better media coverage.”

Chacon said the media “has become a political actor” and that it is “very far from being an intermediary between reality and the citizen.”

He also criticized the polls that had predicted a win for the “No” vote, saying there are “few serious pollsters” in the country.

The opposition “says that there were advantages in the campaign and we can reiterate that yes there was, but in favor of the No, so we will ask the National Electoral Council that this is reverted in future elections,” Chacon said.

“It’s a situation which affects the voter, who doesn’t come across the two proposals in a balanced way in order to choose freely, so the street was the only option that remained to us to reverse this situation."

Further, Jorge Rodriguez, who headed the “Yes” campaign, called on the opposition sectors to apologize for their “campaign of lies” against the amendment to the constitution.

Referring to the “Yes” victory, he said, “The people of Venezuela don’t let themselves be fooled so easily … by the machinery of lies and repetition … in the psychological war.”

Use of government resources

Meanwhile, Manuel Rosales, leader of the opposition party A New Era, who ran against Chávez in 2006, and is now mayor of Maracaibo, said the “Yes” victory was undeserved because it had used government resources in its campaign.

“It is a victory that comes from the unscrupulous, improper, vulgar, and obscene use of the resources of the state and the use of the powers of the state,” he said.

Further, the opposition wants to propose a law that would regulate the use of government resources and power in future elections, and Rosales said he would propose a meeting with the government to discuss such a law.

“From today we’ll work and struggle without rest to prevent such a campaign from happening again in Venezuela.”

“The most important thing is that in Venezuela we are seeing a pluralist movement with representation from all the sectors and political parties, which is becoming a true alternative of power for [the presidential elections] in 2012,” Rosales said.