For 17 years Western mainstream capitalist media has carried out a campaign of lies and deceptions against the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. This constant campaign of manipulation began at the start of the Bolivarian Revolution, with the election of Comandante Hugo Chavez in December of 1998. It has not only continued, but grown in the depths of its lies and open hostility to the Bolvarian Revolution with each gain made by poor and oppressed people in Venezuela for their sovereignty, self-determination and a more just and equal society.
Especially over the past six months, major media sources like the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN have all published articles, editorials and reports greatly exaggerating the economic crisis and painting Venezuela as a state on the verge of complete collapse. A Washington Post Editorial on April 12, 2016 even went as far as to declare that “Venezuela is in desperate need of a political intervention.”
Perfectly in line with this campaign, on July 26, 2016 the National Post printed a Washington Post article on Venezuela by Latin America Correspondent Nick Miroff with the headline “’I’ve never been hungry like this,’” taking a quote from the article by a woman returning home to Venezuela after purchasing goods in the Colombian border town of Cucuta. Following this sensationalized headline, the article went on to explain how “Cucuta, long known as a city of contraband goods, has suddenly became a lifeline for desperate shoppers in neighboring Venezuela, and one of the starkest illustrations yet of its panicky, gnawing hunger” and how “Tens of thousands of Venezuelans…have streamed across the border for basic goods in recent weeks as their country’s economy collapses under the weight of the world’s highest inflation rate and chronic mismanagement, which has produced shortages of everything from diapers to milk.”
Within this deceptive article, Mr. Miroff has repeated all of the buzzwords media uses to describe Venezuela today: hunger, shortages, desperation, chaos, all without bothering to explain how the economic crisis in Venezuela has developed.
Beyond the vague claim of carefully crafted words like “chronic mismanagement,” the clearest analysis that the author presents as the cause of the economic crisis in Venezuela comes from a quote by a, a retired geology professor who is quoted as saying, simply “This government has looted our country… And they’re still doing it.” This quote is then followed by further commentary and anecdotes suggesting that government subsidies that have given poor and working people in Venezuela access to food and basic goods at a price they can afford are in fact the cause of the shortages. In this backward world illustrated by Mr. Miroff, buying at a low subsidized price and then selling at enormous profit has become an unavoidable and completely natural human trait.
Production and Distribution in Venezuela
The main factor that both this article and Western mainstream media has left out is the role of Venezuela’s capitalist class and their allies in the U.S. government in perpetuating the economic crisis and instability in Venezuela. There counter-revolutionary and violent campaign of economic sabotage, hoarding, price gouging and more is what the government of Preisdent Nicolas Maduro refers to as an economic war.
When President Hugo Chavez won the 1998 election in Venezuela it marked the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolution that continues on through today. The Venezuelan government became a government representing the interests of the vast majority of people in Venezuela, instead of the select few. Tremendous gains were made for poor, working and oppressed people, beginning with the adoption of a new constitution ratified by popular vote that enshrines the basic human rights such as the rights to food, water, housing, healthcare and education.
The Venezuelan economy, however, continued to be run by the capitalist class of Venezuela. Although in the last 17 years of the Bolivarian Revolution, the government has nationalized certain industries, such as the petroleum industry, the production of food and basic goods in Venezuela, as well as much of their distribution remains in the hands of a handful of rich Venezuelans and their international partners. Major multinational corporations including Kimberly Clark, Bridgestone, General Mills, and Procter & Gable, McDonalds and many more all continue to have factories and major stakes in Venezuela. With the power of production in their hands, these companies, as well as Venezuelan private industry are doing their best to sabotage the Venezuelan economy, with absolutely no regard to the well-being of the vast majority of the people of Venezuela.
One case of this sabotage occurred at the beginning of July, 2016 when a Kimberly Clark in Aragua, Venezuela, shut-down production and fired over 900 employees, claiming that they did not have the raw materials to make their goods. The Venezuelan government investigated and found the opposite of what the company claimed - the warehouses for this factory were well-stocked. In response, the government of Venezuela turned the factory over to the workers to re-open and continue production. As reported by TeleSUR “The factory can produce, every month, 25 million diapers, 18 million sanitary napkins and 33 million rolls of toilet paper”, or about 20% of the national demand for such products in Venezuela.
The Kimberly Clark factory demonstrates the impact that one private company can have on the availability of goods in Venezuela, and the same scenario can be repeated across the food and pharmaceutical industry. As researched by Pasqualina Curcio, a Venezuelan economist and professor at Simón Bolívar University, “Both the production and distribution of the 10 most difficult foods to purchase, for which there are long queues (corn flour, rice, pasta, milk, oil, margarine, coffee, chicken, beef and chicken eggs) are concentrated in no more than 10 large private companies.” (www.foodfirst.org)
There are many other examples of slowed or stopped production of processed foods and basic goods, as well as instances of hoarding or price gouging reported all over the country. For example, nearly 42,000 medicines and 11 tons of food were seized by government operations in the state of Miranda over a period of about two weeks. These basic goods were confiscated from “bachaqueros” (criminals in Venezuela that sell subsidized goods at incredible profit), or from stores and pharmacies found to be hoarding or breaking price-control laws. (www.Panorama.com.ve)
Another factor that mainstream media articles never mentions is the ongoing U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela. In March of 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama renewed an Executive Order declaring Venezuela “an extraordinary threat to U.S. national security,” and paving the way for the U.S. to continue imposing criminal sanctions on the country. These sanctions not only have an immediate effect on the person or business they are targeting, they are also an important consideration for foreign banks and Venezuela’s debt-holders. As one consequence of this, on July 11, 2016 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that Citibank, the bank that Venezuela uses for foreign currency transactions, had given notice that they would close all the accounts of the Venezuelan Central Bank and the Bank of Venezuela.
The capitalist class in Venezuela works closely with the U.S. government and their imperialist allies for the same end-goal – to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro and with it the Bolivarian Revolution and with it the great gains made for poor, working and oppressed people in Venezuela.
President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution Fight Back!
In the face of this economic war, waged by the counter-revolutionary opposition, the people of Venezuela, led by President Nicolas Maduro have launched a number of initiatives in order to fight against the shortages.
This includes various forms of community projects such as the newly announced “micro-missions.” These projects are focused in six areas, seed production, animal protein, balanced food, cleaning and personal hygiene products, as well as the regionalizing of school meal menus and the supply of essential medicines.
There have also been changes introduced by the government of Venezuela in order to stop smuggling of goods into neighboring countries, hoarding and price-gouging. The most recent of these measures is called the Great Mission of Sovereign Supply. This new mission is run by General Vladimir Padrino, Venezuela’s Minister of Defence, and will be able to control the production and distribution of food, medicine and basic household goods.
If Western media and foreign governments were really concerned about the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, wouldn’t they applaud measures by the government of President Nicolas Maduro to cut-down on smuggling or diversify production? Wouldn’t they celebrate the fact that Venezuela continues to fund and support community-based farmers markets and gardens as a way to combat shortages? Instead, they only offer more and more criticism and more and more so-called evidence about how the political system that the people of Venezuela have chosen with the Bolivarian Revolution will never work.
What right does the government of Canada or the United States have to criticize the methods a foreign government is using to build a more just and equal society? One only has to look around Vancouver to see examples of how this political and economic system is failing the people in Canada. In British Columbia, one in five children live in poverty, a statistic that hasn’t changed since 2012. A recent report called Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2014 by the University of Toronto research team PROOF found that in 2014, 24 per cent of households in the Northwest Territories and 47% of households in Nunavut experienced a form of food insecurity.
Major Media is a Mouthpiece for Foreign Intervention in Venezuela
There is a video of Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton taken during the December 2015 Parliamentary elections in Venezuela. Upon discovering that the counter-revolutionary opposition in Venezuela going to win a majority of the seats in the Parliament she proudly declares “We’re winning! We’re winning!” to a crowd of supporters.
With these two words, the political support from the U.S. government for the violent counter-revolutionary opposition in Venezuela is laid-bare. Recent leaks of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails from her time as U.S. Secretary of State, have even gone further, revealing covert U.S. operations in Venezuela and Latin America meant to sew unrest and instability in the country. The imperialist interests of the government of the U.S. in Venezuela are the same as the interests of Venezuela’s capitalist class – to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution.
Politicians like Hillary Clinton leave it up to the military officers and diplomats to explain more clearly the strategy for achieving their goal. On October 10, 2015 the former head of US Southern Command General Jon Kelly, explained to CCN Spanish that that the U.S. would consider intervening in Venezuela to avert a “humanitarian crisis” involving lack of food and water.
In this way, mainstream media has been the perfect mouthpiece for this strategy. With each editorial, article and opinion piece they describe time and time again the “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela and the lack of any government solutions. Having media like this has also enabled the U.S. government to take a back-seat in an outright campaign against Venezuela. Secretary of State John Kerry can support dialogue in Venezuela out of one side of his mouth while on the other he continues to pressure U.S. allied governments in Latin America to attempt to isolate Venezuela.
Every day the people of Venezuela are mobilized on the streets in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution. Together with President Nicolas Maduro, the Bolivarian Revolution continues to advance, in the face of a very real economic crisis, a vicious economic war and threats of foreign intervention.
As peace-loving people we must take this moment to intensify our campaign in defense of the people of Venezuela, not only to work to counter the lies and manipulations of capitalist media, but to actively and consistently mobilize in opposition to U.S. and foreign intervention in Venezuela. When the people of Venezuela win a victory against imperialist domination, and maintain their right to sovereignty and self-determination it is a victory for poor and oppressed people around the world.
Let the dogs of the empire bark, that’s their job; ours is to battle to achieve the true liberation of our people. – Hugo Chavez
U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!
No to U.S. Sanctions on Venezuela!
Obama: Revoke the Decree!
Follow Alison Bodine on Twitter:@Alisoncolette
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