Shocking videos raise #Venezuela fake-news fears

All the mainstream news channels and publications have been running dramatic footage of a night-time police raid to arrest one of two Venezuelan opposition leaders as part of their odd clamour for the UK’s opposition leader to ‘condemn’ Venezuelan President Maduro’s actions.

The raid, which occurred earlier this week and was caught on apparent mobile phone footage inside the raided house, is certainly dramatic enough, with half a dozen police officers in camouflage uniforms bundling Antonio Ledezma out of his house at night:

Equally dramatic daytime footage, however, sheds new light on the incident – and raises fears that the presentation of events in Venezuela may involve fake news:

Of course, this video is not of a raid in Venezuela. It was taken on a smartphone in the Fallowfield area of Manchester as dozens of police raided the house of someone suspected of involvement in the Manchester Arena attacks.

Only exterior footage is available, but watching police surround the house in order to enter from all directions simultaneously, it’s not hard to see that the scene inside the house would have been even more dramatic than the Venezuelan footage.

But of course, there were no demands for Jeremy Corbyn to condemn the Fallowfield raid because, well – we’re the United Kingdom.

Police raid houses regularly, of course. What matters is whether they do so lawfully, act proportionately – and what happens after the arrest.

The way the Venezuelan video has been presented is a classic example of ‘framing’. How a thing is described and presented can dramatically affect how we perceive it – and we’re meant to perceive the Venezuelan footage in a very different way than we see the Fallowfield raid.

But was it really different? Look again at the Ledesma arrest video. There’s no apparent violence – he’s not struck, he doesn’t crack his head on the police car as they put him in it. The police officers are walking him out, not dragging him or going faster than he can keep up. There’s even an officer filming the arrest as if to prevent any later accusations of brutality:

ledesma video.png

Hardly something you’d expect in a ‘hard-line socialist dictatorship’ or however your preferred news source and various opportunistic politicians have described Venezuela under Maduro.

Nor is this the case of a man beyond reproach being summarily arrested.

Much of the UK media has, curiously, left it out of their coverage of the arrest, but Antonio Ledezma was jailed in 2014 for inciting violence – and in fact, is still serving his sentence. But Venezuelan authorities released him earlier this month to serve his sentence as ‘house arrest’.

Again, not exactly the behaviour of a repressive state.

Ledezma was being re-arrested, not summarily arrested. What was the cause? We don’t know – but ‘don’t know’ is the key point. The UK’s mainstream media and right-wing politicians don’t know either. But you’d never guess there might be a legitimate cause, from the way they’ve framed the issue.

And you don’t have to look too hard to find out what might be the cause. As noted, Ledezma was already convicted of incitement to violence and returned home to house arrest in early July. The other man arrested this week, Leopoldo Lopez, was released from prison to house arrest at the same time – and he ‘celebrated’ his return home to house arrest with a pledge to continue his fight:

If continuing my fight for freedom means going back to Ramo Verde [prison], I am ready to do it. … I reiterate to you my commitment to fight until we conquer

What does ‘continuing my fight’ mean? Again, we don’t yet know, although the Venezuelan government has said that both men had violated the terms of their house-arrest – but we do know (if we look, because the UK media are not telling us) that other opposition leaders have been calling for violent protest for months.

And got violent protests, including bombs used against police::

Evidence for the opposition plans to create violent riots and plant car-bombs includes audio of an alleged meeting discussing explosives and a plan to create a situation requiring foreign intervention to remove the Maduro government.

The SKWAWKBOX does not assert that Ledezma and Lopez have been fairly treated – we don’t know, nor do the mainstream media. That’s the whole point.

What we do know is that the evidence paints a different, less one-sided picture than has been presented to us by the UK mainstream media.

A night-time police raid to re-arrest two men – convicted of incitement to violence and released to serve house arrest – is not in itself evidence of anything. Especially when the arrest appears to have been non-violent, carried out with professional restraint – and filmed by one of the officers as well as by one of the familes of the arrested man.

The arrest video, when watched free of the media’s framing, looks very different – and that difference allows us to see that the framing of the events by the media may be designed to prevent a balanced view – in order to create a particular perception.

A perception skewed and one-sided enough to raise genuine concerns that we are – yet again – being fed fake news.

A perception that the Establishment can then weaponise to attack – for a change – one Jeremy Corbyn.

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  1. The shocking thing is the unity shown in the media, not least by the Guardian and BBC, that Venezuela is under attack by socialists and the Rightwing oilmen, backed by the CIA are the true democrats. The Guardian accuses Maduro in an Opinion piece of “murdering democracy” but makes no reference to the grenade throwing opposition who we can only presume are as peace loving ax the Maiden demonstrators were in Kiev in 2014. While any journalist with a brain can see what’s happening they still dutifully trot out the propaganda nonsense. I guess they get the sack if they don’t toe the line? Or hoping to be signed up by Murdock? Corbyn won’t be bullied by these Neo-cons.

    1. Unless Amnesty International are part of the conspiracy their latest Venezuela report must make uncomfortable reading for those who admire the country’s system of government and its leader.


  2. Strangely the much maligned BBC seems to have posted a lot of the facts as outlined above two days ago in a fairly measured way.


    1. Might be tucked away on the website – helps them claim ‘balance’. Been very absent from its TV coverage, especially commentary

  3. It is always wise to gather the facts before jumping to conclusions.

    Thanks to Skwakbox for reminding us the basic requirements of accurate and impartial reporting.

    Fact gathering and fact checking are the foundations of journalism. The invasion and occupation of Iraq was a result of the media not following those tried and tested methods.

    1. “It is always wise to gather the facts before jumping to conclusions.”

      “Fact gathering and fact checking are the foundations of journalism.”

      At last we can agree on two things!

  4. The initial reports on BBC News24 described these arrests as “abductions”.

  5. I trust the BBC will publish the photos of an innocent passer by doused in petrol and set on fire by the ‘opposition protesters’ and a similar attack on a journalist; or is it photo shopped Jackie Cairns? I can’t wait for tomorrow AM with Nick Robinson asking Bo Jo to condemn the clearly terrorist opposition in Venezuela. I am sure he could then be asked to resign live on air by Laura Kinesberg should he not do so.
    I am so proud of the BBC for being so fair and unbiased and er……….

  6. If this was a fascist regime and the crowd had cheered at a similar explosion against right wing troops, the crowed would automatically be called terrorists by the mass media.

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