Sunday, September 4, 2016

The International Media and the Opposition's Protest March in Caracas

THE VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT HAD REASON TO BELIEVE THAT SOME OF THE ORGANIZERS OF THE SEPTEMBER 1 “TOMA DE CARACAS” HAD THE INTENTION OF REPLICATING THE EVENTS OF APRIL 11, 2002. There was ample evidence to indicate that the protesters may have ended up confronting the government in order to force it to accept their demands. Whether the confrontation was to take the form of violence to achieve regime change or massive civil disobedience to force the Consejo Nacional Electoral to accept the opposition’s electoral demands was never clear.  

But the fact is that the social media was replete with the same messages as during the “guarimba” of 2014, when opposition leaders claimed that the government would fall within a week or so. Freddy Guevara, national deputy and leader of Voluntad Popular, declared that the march represented an “ultimatum” and that protesters would not leave Caracas until their demands were met: “We invite all people who are willing to stay on the streets peacefully and civically until we achieve change, constitutionally, democratically and pacifically.” Indeed, the April 11, 2002 march was also supposed to be “peaceful.”  

Several days prior to the protest, Henrique Capriles and Chúo Torrealba of the MUD stressed the peaceful nature of the protests and claimed that hooded protestors (“encapuchados”) would not be allowed and that the protest organizers had the means to guarantee peace. Nevertheless, encapuchados and others attempted to block traffic on the Francisco Fajardo freeway where Guevara was stationed. The MUD claims that they were “infiltrados.”

 The foreign media reporting on the September 1 events has (true to form) conjured up the image of government repression and restriction on freedom of expression. The other side of the story – namely that the Chavistas were also mobilized in large numbers, that the opposition leaders refuse to recognize the government’s legitimacy, that their regime-change rhetoric comes in distinct forms, and that their past actions have on occasions erupted into violence – was downplayed or completely ignored by the international media. It may be that the government’s firmness and the strictness of the measures that were taken acted as deterrents and explain the more cautious pronouncements coming out of the MUD in the days prior to September 1.


At September 4, 2016 at 3:29 PM , Blogger bf said...

intersting, steve. i wonder whether we are about to see a latin american version of the "return to democracy" in ukraine!

barbara foley

At September 18, 2016 at 10:43 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Steve, I once considered you an honest, clear-headed analyst of Venezuelan reality. You seem to have lost touch with it. Your pro-Chavista slant is no longer a simple political preference, but an unprincipled defense of the absolutely indefensible and an indication that you're completely out of touch with reality going on in front of you. This government you defend has an obligation to move forward with a referendum which it has blocked from the very beginning; it has an obligation to move forward with the election of governors this year, and it has made no indication it will do so. What happened to the promises of "participatory, protagonistic democracy"? Remember "endogenous development"? All the promises of Chávez turned out to be the lies that cover up the wholesale pillaging of Venezuela's treasury by the corrupt elite in power that you defend. The destruction Venezuela is undergoing today is the responsibility of this "revolutionary" government, and you share responsibility in that process as long as you continue defending it. And you have the gall to criticize the opposition MUD whose only ambition is to force the government to fulfill its obligations under the Constitution and allow the referendum and the elections to move forward...

At March 14, 2017 at 11:49 PM , Blogger Richard C. Lambert said...

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