[IMC-Audio] BTL Q&A 3-8-05: White House and Media Escalate War of Words Against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
sharris at snet.net
Mon Mar 7 22:05:02 PST 2005
Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release March 8, 2005
White House and Media
Escalate War of Words
Against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Interview with Eva Gollinger,
attorney reporting from Caracas, Venezuela,
conducted by Scott Harris
Listen in RealAudio:
(Needs RealOne player or RealPlayer)
Although the left has gained ground throughout Latin America with the
recent election of progressive heads of state in Argentina, Brazil,
Ecuador and most recently Uruguay, the White House has singled out
populist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as the region's most
potentially unstable government and "a threat to democracy." Since
President Bush's re-election victory last November, his administration
has been engaged in an escalating war of words against Venezuela, the
fourth largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S.
The Bush administration is widely believed to have played a supporting
role in the April 2002 coup against Chavez, later reversed by a popular
uprising. Since then, Washington has helped finance groups that
organized last August's failed national recall referendum aimed at
forcing the populist president from office. Chavez, who now has won two
presidential elections and six referendums, is expected to run for
re-election when his current term ends in 2006.
Recent attacks from Washington include charges that Venezuela's new
media law will silence Chavez's critics and the government's plan to
purchase arms from Russia and patrol planes from Brazil constitutes a
regional threat. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Eva
Gollinger, an attorney and investigative reporter currently in Caracas,
who assesses the Bush administration's renewed campaign to challenge the
government of Hugo Chavez.
Eva Gollinger: In about the second week of January of this year, a
campaign was launched in the media -- primarily in the United States,
actually, in major newspapers such as the Washington Post, Wall Street
Journal, Los Angeles Times, the Chicago papers, the Miami Herald of
course, you can't forget that, also the Financial Times and other
smaller newspapers around the country -- criticizing the Chavez
administration but in sort of a different tone as had been done before,
because most of the media outlets I named have been very critical of the
Venezuelan government over the past few years.
The same arguments that were being put forward in the newspapers were
being reiterated, generally after, often times before, by Dept. of State
spokespeople. We've seen this before back in the 1980s with Nicaragua
and when Otto Reich was the (Reagan administration's) head of the Office
for Public Diplomacy, an office which was shut down within a period of
two years because it was discovered that the office was engaging in
basically a dirty media war and black propaganda tactics by publishing
bogus stories and under either false reporter's names or paying
reporters to publish information favorable to the U.S. government and
unfavorable to the Sandinistas, which is similar to what we see here in
Venezuela. And it seems to be happening at the same time when it's
being discovered that the Bush administration is also financing
When Condoleezza Rice was being sworn in, or had her confirmation
hearings in the Congress, she discussed Venezuela and claimed that
Chavez was a negative force for the region, something that the United
States couldn't just sit by and let him continue to do what he's doing
in this area and, basically, he's a threat to democracy.
Between The Lines: Washington has criticized Hugo Chavez's regime for
purchases of weapons from Brazil and Russia and also has been quite
critical of a new media law put in place by the government of Hugo
Chavez, which they say restricts freedom of the press. Do you want to
give us your brief view on that?
Eva Gollinger: Sure. I'll briefly mention the "arms race," that the
United States is trying to warn the world about, is another part of the
massive political and media campaign.
The Venezuelan government entered into a contract to buy some weapons
from Russia, but they have reiterated over and over again that they're
just to replace old weapons that are no longer of any use that the
Venezuelan armed forces currently is working with or has in their
possession. So, basically it's just a replacement. There are no MIGS
(jet fighters) that are going to be bought, as has been repeated and
picked up over and over again in different newspapers in the United
States. That's just an outright falsehood. And there's no buildup
happening here either of any kind of arms. Chavez or his administration
are not arming the populace. I mean all of that is basically just made
up to stir up some kind of a fear that there's a threat down here in
Venezuela close to the United States or that in some way could put in
danger the supply of oil to the United States from Venezuela.
Regarding the media law that was passed actually last year, the Law of
Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, was a law that had been
in the works for about three years. Actually, it preceded even the coup
Well, I don't know if any of the listeners have ever been down to
Venezuela and seen the private media channels, but it's like a thousand
times worse than Fox Cable News, and we're talking every channel except
the state-owned channel. Not just with political opinions, but in terms
of presenting outright lies, lots of violence, there was a lot of soft
porn -- and sometimes even beyond that -- during daytime hours.
So, basically this law, the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and
Television, is to put some kind of control on sex and violence that can
be shown during children's and family viewing hours. Once again the
United States Dept. of State together with U.S. media and Venezuelan
private media, have launched this massive campaign saying freedom of
speech and expression is being stifled and the government is censoring
the media. But that's absolutely absurd. You turn on any of the channels
here and you'll see that there's more freedom of expression enjoyed in
Venezuela than probably anywhere else in the world. It's the only place
where they can go on television and talk about killing the president, or
saying the most derogatory and offensive things on a news hour.
Between The Lines: Eva Gollinger, just to conclude here, with Washington
making hostile noises towards the government of Hugo Chavez, what is the
concern down there among people in Venezuela and what is being done to
counter what the U.S. might have in mind for Hugo Chavez?
Eva Gollinger: Well, placing the public on high alert and denouncing
constantly all these types of scare tactics or media campaigns is
basically what the government is doing and what those who support this
government and don't support those types of tactics are doing. It's
basically keeping it in the public light. So, the more people know
hopefully the less likely it will happen.
At the same time there are fears, because outside the United States most
people tend to be more conscious and aware of what the United States is
doing in the rest of the world. So people here are very aware of the
fact that the U.S. has acted pre-emptorily in Iraq and in other places,
and that it could do the same thing here unilaterally as well.
And there are fears, although maybe something pretty far away, of an
invasion of some sort, or an intervention be it through utilizing the
United Nations or the Organization of American States. It seems like
that would be not very possible at this moment, but then again the Bush
administration has shown that it can basically do whatever it wants.
And we are talking about the country that supplies the most oil to the
United States in this region. So there is a very, very, very high
security interest in removing Chavez, because Chavez obviously threatens
the steady supply of oil to the United States -- at least that's how
they see it -- even there's been no alteration in any kind of oil supply
except during the strike that the opposition held at the end of 2002 for
64 days in the oil industry where they sabotaged the refineries, and so
Venezuela was unable to comply with a lot of its production contracts.
But, apart from that there hasn't been a threat or a diminishment of
supply. Chavez has said though, and other members of the government have
also said that if the United States were to take any kind of an action
against Venezuela, then they could certainly count on the fact that the
oil supply would not remain as stable.
Read Eva Gollinger's articles online at http://www.venezuelaanalysis.com
Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines, which can be
heard on more than 35 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our
website at http://www.btlonline.org. This interview excerpt was featured
on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The
Lines for the week ending March 11, 2005. This Between The Lines Q&A was
compiled by Scott Harris and Anna Manzo.
It's your future ... help make a difference against the corporate
media's blackout of news and viewpoints like those in the interview
above by helping us distribute to a wider audience in 2005! Please send
your donation to:
Squeaky Wheel Productions, Inc.
P.O. Box 110176
Trumbull, CT 06611
*** Please note: If you would like your donation to be tax-deductible,
please make your check out to our fiscal sponsor, The Center for Global
Communications Foundation Inc. (or The Global Center) and send to the
PRINT INFORMATION: For reprint permission, please email
betweenthelines at s net.net.
-------------- next part --------------
If you are interested in Between The Lines Summary, a summary of the week's interviews with RealAudio link, email btlsummary-subscribe at lists.riseup.net.
To subscribe to Between The Lines Q&A, email btlqa-subscribe at lists.riseup.net.
To unsubscribe, email btlqa-unsubscribe at lists.riseup.net
More information about the imc-audio