|English | Español||February 21, 2018 | Issue #26|
Chronicle of Predicted Deaths
Gunmen in Venezuela Tried to Provoke a Crisis After "Strike" Failed
By Thierry Deronne, Maximilien Arvelaiz, and Paul Emile-Dupret
December 7, 2002
CARACAS, VENEZUELA, 9:35 PM: A few hours ago, as many had predicted, unidentified snipers fired shots against government opponents who accompanied the rebel military officials at Plaza Francia, in the heart of Altamira, a wealthy neighborhood of Caracas. Two are counted dead and at least six wounded. At prime television viewing hours, the moment in which Carlos Ortega, the head of an opposition union, demanded on live TV that the Organization of American States intervene in Venezuela, as the TV screen titled the story “Massacre in Altamira.” Most of the commercial TV media broadcast his statement live, as he accused President Hugo Chavez of being an assassin.
The minority opposition movement, after failing to unite the people behind its “general strike,” had nothing left except to foment violence in order to accuse Chavez of repression. Last April, the victims of snipers, blamed by the White House on Chavez, served as the pretext to launch a coup d’etat. This time, incapable of gaining the support of the army, the same factions sought to create conditions of international intervention, with the same objective: Remove a democratically elected president who causes problems for the current plans of the Bush administration.
Oil is the main motive behind this media, political and economic war against the Chavez administration, the first light of a new progressive wave in Latin America embodied by the election of Lula de la Silva as president of Brazil and Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador.
Manipulated directly or indirectly by the dominant press agencies, the world’s media has started, again, calling this country “ungovernable, cut in two, and of a Chavez who is authoritarian and repressive.” For weeks, a rumor has spread about Venezuela being unable to meet its obligations to supply oil, a matter directly related to the national interests of the United States. The Washington Post editorial of friday, November 19, was revealing in this aspect, asking the Bush government to “act before it is too late.” The rumor became a reality two days ago when the captain of an oil tanker, in spite of the opposition by his own sailors, refused to move the ship. The Venezuelan government appeared to lose control of the situation in the eyes of the world. The deaths tonight only reinforce this sentiment.
In a letter we sent two days ago to Belgian Senator Jean Cornil and to French Mayor Georges Sarre, we said that the opposition seeks only one goal: to create one or more deaths in order to move to the next level. A script that was analyzed, with photographic documentation, by Maurice Lemoine, correspondent for the French newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique, who had been present in April 2002 during the attempted coup d’etat. A media coup that is already studied in journalism schools but that continues at full steam, completely impune. Tonight we see more evidence of this. The TV channels don’t stop amplifying the attack, with permanent action music soundtracks, to blame the attack on President Chavez. Obviously, the Chavez government, which has condemned the crime with all its energy, is the last political actor with motives to produce such events, those which reinforce the possibilities of intervention. Months ago, the image of an “authoritarian government ready to do anything to keep power” was insidiously planted in global opinion, planting seeds that favor the spin that blames these new deaths on the government and opening the path for acceptance of foreign intervention in Venezuela.
It doesn’t matter that the “general strike” launched five days ago failed. It doesn’t matter that the opposition doesn’t have public support and that the majority of Venezuela’s people continue supporting this process of change led by Chavez. The Venezuelan situation demonstrates that a minority of people in alliance with a media monopoly – and certainly the support of powerful sectors in the world – can cause the blockage of a voted-upon change and social transformation.
Today the essential task is not to define one self as “for or against Chavez,” but, rather, to defend democracy in Venezuela and everywhere. That is to say, the right of a people to take its own destiny in its hands and to construct the development model that it chooses, even if that model is outside the dominant neoliberal model.
Paul Emile-Dupret is an advisor to the European Parliament from Belgium who, in his role as human rights observer, was shot 41 times last summer by rogue pro-coup police forces in Caracas. Thierry Deronne, also Belgian, is a journalist with TV Tambores, a Community Television station in Venezuela. Max Arvelaiz, a French native of Venezuelan descent, is a communications consultant to the Chavez government. Arvelaiz and Deronne are professors of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism. These three internationally respected European leaders are in Venezuela this week in their respective roles, and collaborated on this report to give readers this accurate account of current events in that country that are too often being distorted by the Commercial Media, including U.S. newspaper and wire correspondents.
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