By Roberto Lovato – Latino Rebels, March 14, 2014
Caracas – The news and imagery available on Venezuela in recent weeks would lead the man on the street to conclude that opposition youth are "peaceful protesters" in line with the global activism of the youth of the "Arab Spring", the Occupy movement or other Latin American countries. Such a conclusion would be wrong as the information on Venezuela is very questionable, on an unprecedented scale.
Consider, for example, those killed on both sides. Private media (in English or Spanish) failed to cover the eight (and more) pro-chavist victims of violence perpetrated by students or the rest of the right. None are investigating reports that the majority of the deaths were attributable to the opposition. The radical scrubbing of pro-Chavist victims is surprising.
The image above shows, for example, members of the Venezuelan right holding a barbed wire that beheaded an innocent cyclist, Rafael Duron de La Rosa, who died omitted by most of the media. Another example of silence is the murder of Chilean student Gisella Rubiar on 9 March in Mérida, who was shot by far-right activists as she tried to clear a street blocked by their barricade.
Another aspect of this very special media treatment of Venezuela concerns the images of guy Fawkes' masks, a symbol of anti-capitalist movements popularized by Hollywood and, more recently, by the occupy protests.
Last week I interviewed members of the opposition, including dozens of young people. Almost all of these are middle- and upper-class students living in the ultra-elite neighborhoods of Caracas, the wealthiest in the Americas. When I asked them if they defined themselves as "anarchists" or "Marxists" or as supporters of one of the ideologies that characterized most of the historical or current oppositions in the region, these students consistently answered in the negative, some sometimes going from a "para nada!" ("not at all!") or Spanish equivalents of "Never in Life!"
Some of the interviewees told me that they identify with soldiers such as Generalissimo Marcos Pérez Jiménez, a former and very repudiated dictator. They also recognized themselves in the Venezuelan opposition, led by three members of the country's elite —Henrique Capriles, Maria Corina Machado and Leopoldo Lopez—all involved in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez and with direct family ties to the owners or top executives of the largest private conglomerates in Venezuela and the continent.
Now, if Venezuela's opposition is led by billionaires in a poor country and instead of fighting the multi-millionaire initiatives of US politics (as most Latin American movements do), this opposition receives millions of dollars from the State Department, how can we understand all these images of students wearing a symbol associated with left-wing movements?
The answer is threefold. The first is that the idea of wearing this mask in front of the cameras is part of the very sophisticated media training that students have received from OTPOR/CANVAS and other consultants rented with millions of U.S. dollars. The second is that students who commit violence and who fear sanctions need to hide. Finally, that's the logic of the market, there are people buying masks because it's cool or others who see it as a commercial windfall, as I saw in the pictures I took last week.
Without a close analysis of the dominant imagery, without careful consideration of what the Venezuelan opposition is, it might be confused with something like Che Guevara or Occupy or the Arab Spring. But with leaders of the student right such as Lorent Saleh, linked to the paramilitaries of former President Uribe and to Colombian neo-Nazi groups (see El Espectador of 21/7/13) (1) or Yon Goicochea who received the $500,000 prize "Milton Friedman" and other private or government funding of the United States, there are many more behind Guy Fawkes' masks in Venezuela than the ones we see in the media. And perhaps we are seeing something new and radically different in the insurgent continent of America: Fauxccupy…
Photo: Roberto Lovato
English translation: Thierry Deronne