Many media outlets portray Venezuela’s youthful opposition as “peaceful protesters”, similar to those in the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, or other movements in Latin America. They are, however, very different, and it is important to highlight some of the areas in which the media has failed so far in its coverage of the Venezuelan crisis.
To begin with, corporate media sources (both in English and in Spanish) have failed to cover the eight (or more) Chavista victims killed as a result of opposition violence. At the same time, there have been no investigations into claims that the majority of killings have been committed by the opposition. An innocent cyclist, for example, was beheaded by barbed wire allegedly put up by opposition students, but this was not covered by the media.
The most confusing images, however, show protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks, holding rocks in their hands. Such an image has become a popular symbol of anti-capitalist movements – such as Anonymous and Occupy. However, most of the students protesting are middle or upper class university students living in middle class or ultra-elite neighbourhoods of Caracas – some of the wealthiest in the Americas. None of these students sympathise with anarchist or Marxist ideologies, and many of them would actually emphasise their opposition to such schools of thought. They generally sympathise, instead, with Venezuela’s opposition, led by three elite capitalist political figures — Henrique Capriles, María Corina Machado and Leopoldo Lopez — all directly linked to either owners or top executives of the biggest corporations in Venezuela and Latin America. More worryingly, perhaps, is that some even say they are inspired by former dictator and friend of the USA, Marcos Pérez Jiménez.
With the opposition led by millionaires in a country of immense economic inequality, it differs greatly from other Latin American opposition movements. Instead of opposing the damaging neoliberal policies pushed by international capitalist organisations, the Venezuelan opposition in fact receives millions of dollars from the USA. One student leader, for example received the $500,000 Milton Friedman prize, along with funding from other private sources. It is clear that the opposition is far from revolutionary, and we should not allow its appearance in the media to fool us.
The wearing of Guy Fawkes masks is simply a sophisticated technique encouraged by OTPOR/CANVAS and other consultants bought with money received from the USA. It suggests that the protesters are something they are not, whilst at the same time protecting them from retribution after engaging in violent acts.
The Venezuelan government, in spite of the advances in favour of the People, is far from perfect, and should be criticised when it makes mistakes. However, we ought to be very careful on the Left not to side with the exploiters and imperialists in our quest for truth, justice, and popular democracy.
Adapted from an article by Roberto Lovato originally posted at: