A mass propaganda campaign has begun since the US announced that Trump was recognising right-winger Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela and was keeping open the option of military intervention. Guaido has never been elected as president, but Canada, Brazil, Germany and various right-wing South American governments have made declarations recognising him.
All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.
All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.Article 2 of the UN Charter
Flouting UN Charter
Meanwhile, European Council president Donald Tusk tweeted a call for other states to do likewise – in direct contravention of chapter two of the UN Charter:
The ‘framing’ of the narrative by mainstream media outlets is obvious. The BBC and other broadcasters are reciting ‘economic mismanagement’ by the Venezuelan government as fact, almost always without any mention of the crippling effect of US economic sanctions.
Right-wing ‘resistance’ groups are described in positive terms – even though such groups have committed acts of terror, including setting opponents on fire in public and detonating car-bombs:
While Establishment coverage invariably includes footage of empty supermarket shelves, right-wing protesters have burned huge stockpiles of food:
Left-wing observers have accused the right-wing opposition of intentionally creating shortages. As the SKWAWKBOX reported in 2017, of the nine commodities in shortest supply in Venezuela, no fewer than seven are controlled by a single company – one owned by a leader of the right-wing opposition.
The ‘mainstream’ handling of events in Venezuela has been markedly different from the treatment of the ‘yellow vest’ protests in France.
Online and other disinformation has also been a key feature of the international situation surrounding Venezuela. In 2017, for example, allegations of vote fraud were widely and uncritically publicised by the UK’s ‘mainstream’ media – without any mention of the fact, except by former Labour deputy PM John Prescott – that the firm making the allegations was run by a man with a history of calls for regime change in the country.
Similarly, social media posts by people claiming to be in Venezuela made damning first-hand claims – but the individuals posting them were then discovered to be in the US and elsewhere.
That phenomenon has not evaporated. On the contrary, a very clear example was identified just today by a Twitter user.
I live here… I live with having rationed food, toilet paper, basic human necessities… I do 5+ hour queues to buy a loaf of breadtwitter.com/emojupiter
Louis Allday noticed that a woman using the pseudonym ‘baby sun’ and the handle @emojupiter had tweeted a harrowing account her daily experiences in Venezuela on Thursday morning:
However, the same Twitter account had tweeted – only five days previously – a glowing account of her life in ‘the cutest little apartment in paris [sic]’ and her excitement about her new job and fashion studies:
Apartments in Paris are not cheap, of course – especially the ‘cutest’ ones. ‘Baby sun’ seems likely to come from one of the wealthy right-wing families who support the Venezuelan coup attempt. This impression is reinforced by earlier tweets – the account-holder locked the account after the above tweets were spotted, but happily Google still had a cache of the open account:
An elite campaign
Although not a scientific sample, it also seems that much of the social media support for Guaido comes from privileged ex-pats – musicians, television presenters, property brokers and the like – rather than from ordinary people.
This may be an indication of the nature of the two sides – and according to many observers inside the country, it is. While journalists with Establishment organisations lionise the ‘resistance’, others describe a mass ‘chavista’ movement of pro-government citizens.
But one of the most eloquent depictions of the reality of the issue may be two pictures posted to Twitter of the competing elected ‘assemblies’ in Venezuela. The ‘Constituent Assembly’ is largely pro-government, while the ‘National Assembly’ is pro-opposition. Spot the difference?
It is hard indeed to find a darker face in the latter picture.
A single account is not in itself evidence of a coordinated campaign to mislead citizens of other countries – though it is certainly a pointer to the fact that anyone hearing, reading or seeing news about Venezuela needs to exercise considerable caution in deciding what to accept or reject.
The wider context of media and social media narratives make the need for such caution even more obvious.
Especially when the US, always hungry for oil, with a long history of regime change and manufactured consent and run by a right-winger eager for distractions from his own domestic troubles, is driving it.
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