Another coup attempt; another media circus; and another tantrum from far-right Florida senator Marco Rubio. The US-backed opposition in Venezuela has failed once again to topple the country’s elected government. But what are the key points to take away from the events of 30 April?
In times of crisis, the US state department calls the news
Each time tensions have heightened in Venezuela, senior US officials have taken to Twitter in an attempt to control the narrative.
- On 6 February, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo claimed that the Venezuelan government had blocked a bridge to stop ‘humanitarian aid’ from entering the country. The Western media fell in “lockstep” with the story, before it came to light that the bridge had never been open.
- During the US ‘humanitarian aid‘ stunt in late February, Pompeo – among others – desperately claimed that Venezuelan officers had set the ‘humanitarian aid’ trucks alight. It later turned out that Colombians were probably responsible.
- On 10 March, Marco Rubio falsely claimed that, in the midst of a nationwide electrical blackout in Venezuela, “at least 80 neonatal patients have died at University Hospital in Maracaibo”.
- Rubio claimed yesterday that Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro had “taken down all social media access inside Venezuela”, before continuing to share videos from Venezuela.
- Pompeo also said yesterday that Maduro had been “ready to leave” Venezuela but that the Russians convinced him to stay.
In other words, senior US officials seem to be giving the corporate media their cue for what to report on. This is standard practice within any dictatorial regime, yet goes largely unnoticed in the West.
“Make or break moment”
Foreign Policy magazine described yesterday’s events as “Guaidó’s make or break moment”.
It’s unclear, however, whether Guaidó genuinely expected the Venezuelan military to defect en masse. Indeed, little has changed since Guaidó’s previous failed coup attempts, during which both military and popular support were demonstrably lacking. As Albert Einstein once quipped:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
But Guaidó’s repeated challenges to Maduro’s authority may simply be attempted provocations rather than serious attempts to seize power. Like the kid at school with tons of big brothers, Guaidó knows that Maduro’s reaction is constricted: because the entire US war machine is watching, waiting, and looking for an excuse to intervene.
Indeed, US officials drew ‘redlines‘ which, once crossed, would provide the US government with a self-given justification to intervene. Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland made similar remarks, saying the “safety and security” of coup leaders like Guaidó “must be guaranteed”.
Would the safety of insurrectionists in the UK, US, or Canada be guaranteed? That question isn’t worth answering.
The corporate media circus was in full swing yesterday, bloating a relatively minor coup attempt into an international frenzy. Some journalists, it seemed, could not hide their excitement at the unlikely prospect of Maduro leaving power.
But if corporate journalists had spent time talking to any of the millions of government supporters on the ground in Venezuela, as The Canary did recently, they might have been more sceptical about Guaidó’s chances of success. And unsurprisingly, the thousands of people who gathered to defend the presidential palace yesterday were comprehensively ignored. As author Alan MacLeod writes, “the ‘Venezuelan people’ are whoever agrees with Donald Trump”. And when working-class Venezuelans (who make up large parts of Maduro’s support base) are covered in the media, they are depicted as “thugs”.
The US is far from finished with Venezuela. Crippling economic sanctions, reportedly responsible for 40,000 deaths since 2017, will continue to punish the civilian population for their political resilience. But by questioning the propaganda and bias of the corporate media, we can all show our solidarity with ordinary Venezuelans.
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