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Twin Town High (vol. 8)
In Venezuela, the alternative media has been fighting political ignorance
Friday 24 February @ 10:35:06
[see also Pulse cover story, "The beat on the street in Venezuela" by Johnny Hazard]
And fighting historical amnesia
(Editor’s Note: Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told U.S. lawmakers that the Venezuelan government posed “one of the biggest problems” in the region and that its ties to Cuba were “particularly dangerous” to democracy in Latin American. The Bush Administration seems to believe that Venezuela is a troubled democracy—it should take a long hard look in the mirror. Over the past weekend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez warned Condoleeza Rice “not to mess” with him and said her diplomatic efforts to turn Latin American nations against Venezuela would fail. Following is a report from groups with Minnesota ties that are working on Venezuelan issues.)
by John Peterson & Maria Pena
We are all familiar with the powerful role the mainstream media plays in shaping public opinion. It is now commonly accepted by most Americans that the intelligence presented by the Bush Administration in the run up to the Iraq War was “flawed” at best. The role of the mainstream media in building up the Pentagon’s case for a war that millions had doubts about has been well documented.
The same is true about coverage of other countries. Blanketing the airwaves with misinformation and negative coverage is one of the principal methods used by the Venezuelan opposition in their repeated efforts to bring down the democratically-elected government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. As part of the effort to counter this campaign of misinformation, the Venezuelan alternative media has been dedicated to the production of documentary videos in order to show the reality of the situation in Venezuela, as lived, seen and told by the millions of Venezuelan poor who support “comandante Chávez.”
The beat on the street in VenezuelaIn
Minnesota, the Hands Off Venezuela campaign (HOV) and the Minnesota-Venezuela
Committee have been showing some of the more well-known documentaries around
the metro area, including “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,”
“Venezuela Bolivariana,” and “The Old Man and Jesus: Prophets
of the Rebellion,” which premiered last Friday in Minneapolis.
HOV was established internationally in December 2002. At that time the reactionary
Venezuelan opposition had launched another attempt to overthrow the government
of Hugo Chávez and put an end to the Bolivarian Revolution. We work to
educate and inform the U.S. public about events in Venezuela; to build and organize
opposition to U.S. intervention; and to build ties of solidarity between Venezuelan
and American workers and youth.
Here in the United States, the campaign of misinformation against Venezuela
is also widespread. Chávez is called a “dictator” and an
“authoritarian”—despite his having won two presidential elections,
a recall referendum, and several referendums on his program and policies. His
current approval rating stands at well over 60 percent—far higher than
the current occupant of the White House. He is accused by Donald Rumsfeld of
starting an “arms race” in South America, while the U.S. government
pumps billions of dollars of military “aid” into Venezuela’s
closest neighbor through “Plan Colombia.” Condoleezza Rice has called
him a “negative force in the region” and called on the international
community to support a major transit workers’ strike against Chávez’
government. The only problem is: There was no transit strike, and the main labor
unions support the Chávez government. If only she’d been so supportive
of New York City transit workers last December! To top it all off, the infamous
Pat Robertson has called on live television for the assassination of Hugo Chávez.
Venezuela is one of the top five suppliers of oil to the United States. This
fact alone explains its importance in today’s world. But instead of using
the profits to line the pockets of multinationals like Exxon-Mobil (which profited
some $10.7 billion in the 4th quarter of 2005— while we were all getting
gouged at the pump), the Chávez government has launched a series of social
programs to eradicate illiteracy, provide basic health care to all its citizens,
and rebuild the infrastructure of the country. This doesn’t sit well with
the oil execs and their pals in Washington.
The widely-acclaimed “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” started
as a “routine” documentary on Chavez by the Irish Film Board. They
ended up recording the historic events of April 11-14, 2002, when the people
of Venezuela rose up to overturn a military/civilian coup supported by the U.S.
government and its inaptly-named “National Endowment for Democracy.”
This is the film that got many people interested in the truth about Venezuela,
practically sparking a cottage industry of documentaries.
Bolivariana” was the first film produced by the Calle y Media (Street
and Media) collective in Venezuela. It provides a broad overview of the Bolivarian
revolutionary process that is transforming oil-rich Venezuela. It focuses on
the period following the Venezuelan government’s brutal re-pression of
the people of Caracas in 1989, which led to the the rise of Hugo Chávez
as a hero of the people, his election to the presidency in 1998, and the subsequent
coup against him in April 2002. By interviewing both supporters and opponents
of Hugo Chávez, it gives a real feel for what is happening in that South
American country. It provides firsthand insight on the Bolivarian Revolution
and its incredible grassroots and networking power. “Venezuela Bolivariana”
is an excellent introduction to Venezuelan history and current events.
“The Old Man and Jesus: Prophets of Rebellion” is the newest film
by Calle y Media. It follows the lives of two homeless people in Caracas during
the bosses’ attempted sabotage of the oil industry in late 2002. This
inspiring documentary shows just how deep the revolutionary consciousness of
the Venezuelan masses flows. The passion and revolutionary fervor of the most
downtrodden members of society should give us all hope that another world is
All of these films have been well received at recent viewings in the Twin Cities,
with lively discussions and many people signing up to learn more about Venezuela
and the HOV campaign.
This confrontation is not going away anytime soon. It is vital, therefore, that
we organize opposition to the ongoing U.S. intervention in Venezuela. The first
step is to educate people. To this end, we invite you to join us this Friday,
Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. at Waite House, 2529 13th Ave. S., Mpls., for a presentation
of “Venezuela Bolivariana.” Keep an eye out for future events as
To get involved, or for more information, please visit www.ushov.org
or contact email@example.com or call 651-373-7609.
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