Seeing Venezuela ‘Through the Looking Glass’

Seeing Venezuela ‘Through the Looking Glass’

Wall Street Journal’s Looking Glass World

by Stephen Lendman

She’s at it again on the Journal’s editorial page in
her June 4 article called “The Young and the
Restless,” subtitled “Is this the beginning of the end
for Hugo Chavez?”  The writer is self-styled Latin
American expert Mary Anastasia O’Grady always getting
top grades in vilification and disinformation but
failing ones on regional knowledge and legitimate

This time she may have overstepped.  Her article
wreaks with disinformation, outright lies, and most
disturbing of all - incendiary commentary straddling
the tipping edge of inciting insurrection.  She can
get away with it because she represents elitist
interests and the Journal’s editorial view supporting
the Bush administration’s fixation on ousting Hugo
Chavez by any means, including through violence.  It
doesn’t matter that Chavez was just reelected again in
December by a near two to one margin or that he’s
admired and loved by the great majority of
Venezuelans.  They’re unperturbed and/or supportive of
his shuttering RCTV’s VHF Channel 2 overshadowing that
issue being used as a pretext for suspicious violent
street protests, mainly in Caracas.  More on that

It’s clear O’Grady will fit right in if the Journal’s
controlling Bancroft family succumbs to greed selling
out to Rupert Murdock’s wooing.  That prospect’s got
Journal employees apoplectic.  They’re scrambling
through their union seeking an alternate buyer willing
to grant what Murdock never will - journalistic
independence and what’s left of the paper’s tattered
integrity.  Those ideas are anathema to how he views
journalism, and he’s not shy saying it.

Australian-raised author Bruce Page wrote about him in
his new book, “The Murdock Archipelago,” calling him
“one of the world’s leading villains (and) global
pirates.” Murdock is clear, according to Page.  He
wants his journalistic empire to be a privatized
“state propaganda service, manipulated without scruple
and with no regard for truth (in return for) vast
government favors such as tax breaks, regulatory
relief, and monopoly” market control free as possible
from competitors having too much of what Murdock wants
for himself.  The problem is he usually gets his way.
Unless Journal employees stop him, the WSJ’s
independence and status as a legitimate publication
are over.  Under Murdock control, no distinction will
be made between real news, editorial opinion and
agitprop, and no views will be tolerated, henceforth,
contrary to Mr. Murdock’s.  That’s how he operates
throughout his media empire - take it or leave and
find another line of work.

The way O’Grady writes, she’s not on board with other
staffers against the Bancroft family sellout.  Murdock
will love her views, may give her more latitude and
maybe more space as well.  Let’s hope she’s
disappointed, that Journal employees retain their
independence, and Journal readers keep what they now
have free from the venomous claws of the villanous
king of media moguls.

On June 4, O’Grady was warming up for the Murdock era,
but her circuits were crossed, and she’s straddling a
dangerous line.  Despite her claim or hope, it’s not
the end of Hugo Chavez in a nation where two-thirds of
the people adore him and all but the “sifrino”
well-off 15 - 20% want no one else as president. They
plan keeping him as long as he wants the job
regardless of O’Grady’s delusional musings.  She might
also try getting her facts straight, hard as that is
for her.

She wrote “As tens of thousands of antigovernment
student protestors poured into the streets of Caracas
last week and national guard troops used tear gas and
rubber bullets against them, many observers were
asking whether….Chavez had finally met his
Sorry Mary.  Your count needs fine-tuning and your
commentary an explanation of what really went on, why,
for whose benefit, and who’s behind it. 

For starters, a moderately large protest march took
place in Caracas May 28 after Radio Caracas
Television’s (RCTV) VHF Channel 2 went off the air at
midnight May 27.  A much larger crowd of supporters
dwarfed the opposition, unmentioned in O’Grady’s
column. A new public TV station, TVes, went on the air
immediately, mandated by the Venezuelan Constitution
to do for all Venezuelans what RCTV never did serving
corporate interests alone. 

RCTV lost its operating license because it broke the
law and continued flaunting it openly.  It playing a
leading role instigating and supporting the aborted
April, 2002 coup against President Chavez mass public
support on the streets helped overturn.  At year’s
end, it conspired again in the economically
devastating main trade union confederation (CTV) -
chamber of commerce (Fedecameras) lockout and
industry-wide oil strike.  It cost state oil company
PDVSA an estimated $14 billion from lost revenue and
willful sabotage of its facilities.  In January and
late May, this writer twice wrote about these events
detailing how RCTV flaunted the law, especially in an
article titled “Venezuela’s RCTV Acts of Sedition.”

No government should tolerate seditious acts,
especially from its broadcasters able to reach and
influence large audiences.  Chavez, however, was
tolerant letting RCTV’s VHF Channel 2 continue on-air
until its license expired.  His National
Telecommunication Commission (CONATEL) then, with full
justification, refused to renew it.  RCTV broke the
law and flaunted the public trust.  But it wasn’t
silenced and is still able to broadcast through cable
and satellite where media like CNN in the US thrive.
It even set up huge public screens in upscale
neighborhoods airing its programming for street
viewers there.  Shuttering Channel 2 isn’t a free
speech issue.  It’s a public trust and responsibility
one.  In how he governs, Chavez respects that as his
duty to all Venezuelans.  RCTV consistently failed on
all counts.  Yet, it got off with a wrist slap.

The protests continued, nonetheless, on Monday with
several thousand students from several universities
demonstrating in central Caracas.  Pro-business
newspaper El Universal and other reports said violence
broke out between demonstrators and police after
students threw rocks at a government building.  The
police acted to stop it they as they should, but not
as O’Grady wrote making it sound like a military

About 200 students also burned tires and boxes
blocking traffic at Plaza Brion in the Chacaito
neighborhood, then again attacked a government
building.  Police were forced to use tear gas and
perdigones, or plastic shrapnel, in response with
protestors throwing with rocks and bottles.

Protests continued for several days with opposition
media channel Globovision falsely reporting
demonstrations were peaceful and police attacked
without provocation.  It’s this kind of reporting,
common on Globovision and other corporate media
channels, that made Chavez speak out on national
television May 29 warning Globovision specifically he
will act against it if its violence-inciting reports
don’t stop.  He did what any responsible leader must
to maintain law and order saying he won’t tolerate
privately run media or public officials openly
inciting violence and chaos in the country. 

What Venezuela’s National Assembly did allow is
something unimaginable in the US where democracy is
more illusion than fact.  It invited students on both
sides of RCTV’s shuttering to debate it before a full
session of congress.  When they came June 7, it
highlighted what’s evident on the streets - the sharp
class divide showing students from elitist families in
the protests while the great majority of ordinary
Venezuelans, benefitting from Bolivarianism, opposing

The National Assembly forum was held June 7.  Each
side showed up with a list of 20 speakers, but things
didn’t go as planned.  Protesting student
representatives came, then left after the first
pro-government speech saying nothing after its
leader’s comment that protests would continue. It
proved free expression isn’t the issue at all as,
given the chance to make their case to congress,
student agitators chose not to do it.

When exposed to the truth in a public forum, their
hypocrisy imploded.  It can’t stand against Chavez’s
commitment to participatory democracy at the
grassroots, true respect for free and open expression,
and support for free quality education at all levels.
His government just increased access to it further by
eliminating university entrance exams and raising
teachers’ salaries, according to the Chronicle of
Higher Education. It’s part of an effort to give
children of the poor and working class equal access to
what those of the well-off always had. 

Made-For-Media Staged Street Protests

We’ve seen this scheme on the streets play out before.
It preceded the aborted 2002 Venezuelan coup with
Washington’s dirty hands all over it.  US
administrations often pull these stunts as a tactical
way to incite trouble, at times having something more
devious in mind like ousting a sitting government it’s
become expert doing.  Often when it happens anywhere,
you can bet on two things:

—The ruling government isn’t a US client state.
That means it’s unwilling to sacrifice its own
sovereignty to that of the lord and master of the

—Secondly, Washington’s dirty hands are all over it,
and no stunt is too underhanded to use, including
murder.  Unconfirmed reports indicate seven or more
Chavistas have already been killed in the violence.

Past May Be Prologue

On August 19, 1953, a Washington-orchestrated CIA
implemented coup ousted the democratically elected
Mohammed Mossadegh Iranian nationalist government
whose “crime” was challenging US-UK corporate
interests.  Masterminding CIA’s Operation Ajax was
Theodore Roosevelt’s grandson Kermit.  It took him two
attempts to do it, and key making it work involved
bribing Iranian military officers and engineering
street protests like what’s ongoing now in Venezuela,
mainly in Caracas.  Venezuelans should take note of
the Iranian experience.  Following the coup, the US
reinstated Shah Reza Pahlavi to power ushering in his
25 year reign of terror leading to the 1979 revolution
ousting him. 

Mossadegh was lucky staying alive.  He died in 1967 at
age 82, but lived under house arrest in his hometown
of Ahmad Abad.  Chavez won’t likely fare as well if a
US coup against him succeeds.  He won’t be tried in a
staged kangaroo court trial like Saddam and then
hanged.  Washington won’t let him survive that long
realizing it erred in 2002 when it had a chance to
eliminate him and didn’t.  This time it will, Chavez
knows it, and possibly we’re witnessing the latest US
attempt to do it using RCTV’s shuttering as a pretext.

That’s how things played out in Chile in 1973 when
Nixon, Kissinger and CIA ousted and murdered
democratically elected Salvador Allende ushering in 16
years of fascist rule under General Augusto Pinochet.
It began with Nixon “making the (Chilean) economy
scream” leading up to CIA-instigated destabilization
and bloody military coup on another September 11.
Prior to it, the anti-Allende disinformation campaign
championed “freedom of the press” with CIA money given
right wing daily newspaper El Mercurio for
anti-government propaganda.  Washington also
orchestrated an international disinformation campaign
against the Allende government smearing his socially
democratic administration similar to what’s happening
now against Chavez on the same issue of free
expression and the media.

Back to the Present

It wasn’t surprising US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice used the June Organization of American States
(OAS) general assembly to lash out at Chavez on the
RCTV issue calling on OAS to investigate the state of
freedom of expression in Venezuela.  Without a touch
of irony, she championed “Freedom of expression,
freedom of association and freedom of conscience” in a
democracy.  She neglected to mention her own
government openly defiles democracy saying challenging
its policies is unpatriotic or even treasonous with
George Bush stating “Either you are with us, or you
are with the ‘terrorists.’ “

Bush had more to say in Prague en route to the G-8
summit in Germany saying “In Venezuela, elected
leaders have resorted to shallow populism to dismantle
democratic institutions and tighten their grip on
power.”  The shameless US Senate agreed passing a
resolution denouncing Chavez and supporting RCTV -
another example of how complicit the Democrat-led
Congress is with Bush’s imperial agenda.

Various human rights organizations, like Human Rights
Watch, have been co-opted as well joining in this
outrageous attack.  So did Reporters Without Borders
with a long record ignoring real abuses and denouncing
phony ones all too often.  Then there’s the notorious
(US) National Endowment of Democracy (NED) that’s
funded and operated to subvert what it claims to stand
for and has an ugly record doing it.  It works with
CIA doing overtly what the spy agency does sub rosa -
helping to oust democratically elected leaders
unwilling to be submissive US clients.

Peru’s Alan Garcia serves the elite so his lawlessness
was ignored when he pulled the operating licenses of
two TV stations and three radio stations.  The likely
reason was their support for a strike Garcia opposes
because, unlike Chavez, he’s subservient to Washington
and no democrat.

Summing up, what’s playing out on Venezuela’s streets
is part of a made-in-Washington attempt weaken Hugo
Chavez through a phony trumped up scheme denouncing
him for opposing free expression, using RCTV’s
shuttering as the pretext.  This writer even got one
unconfirmed report elitist university professors
ordered their students to the streets in protest or
get failing grades in their courses if they refused.
It’s likely true, so many in the protest crowds
weren’t there for conviction, but fearing retribution
in class if they demurred.

Chavez supporters, however, aren’t being quiet
although their actions go unreported in the US and
Venezuelan corporate media. Chris Carlson (from
Venezuela) wrote in Venezuela Analysis June 1 that
“Organizations, journalists, students, activists and
intellectuals in Venezuela accused the national and
international media of waging a campaign against
Venezuela” as part of destabilization efforts over the
past few days….“the RCTV protests and media coverage
of them have a hidden agenda directed by the United
States and their Venezuelan allies to destabilize the

Carlson continued saying over 600 social organizations
attended a May 31 press conference in Caracas.  They
signed a document rejecting the “imperial interference
to destabilize and overthrow the Bolivarian
government” citing interference by CIA. They also
supported Chavez’s shuttering of RCTV and revealed
evidence from documents obtained that Washington
(through NED) paid RCTV and Globovision journalists to
incite street violence on-air that could result in
deaths hoping to discredit and weaken Chavez.  They
further claimed RCTV and Globovision systematically
“called for subversion, chaos, fascism, terrorism, and
assassination” acting as “spokespersons for foreign
interests” - namely the Bush administration.  Its
ultimate objective is to “overthrow and assassinate
President Hugo Chavez,” they said.

Pro-Chavez students joined in denouncing the corporate
media smear and violence inciting plan saying “We, the
university students, denounce….the destabilization
plan….promoted by the private media (serving) the
national and transnational elite…..We repudiate
(lies) to alter the public order and peace” to create
conditions like April, 2002 and the 2002-03 industry
lockout and oil strike.

Wall Street Journal O’Grady’s Role in Washington’s
Scheme to Destabilize Chavez’s Government and Oust Him

O’Grady writes a weekly “Americas” column for the
Journal’s hard right editorial page at times extreme
enough to make a Nazi blush.  Once Murdock arrives,
it’s hard imagining how much worse it may get, but he
has a way of surprising for the worst.  It may not be
long finding out how bad.  Imagine Fox News on every
WSJ page or more O’Gradys making them even worse.

In her June 4 column, O’Grady writes: Chavez is “An
avowed Marxist….in the process of destroying his
country….he is also an international menace….using
his oil wealth to sow revolution, a la Fidel Castro,
in South and Central America (and) a dear friend of
the Iranian government.  Most of Latin America….has
his number, and it would be hard to find a democrat in
the Western Hemisphere who wouldn’t cheer his
retirement and the return of checks and balances in
Venezuelan government.”

Space won’t allow a proper and thorough denunciation
of this line of vitriolic, hateful rot.  Understanding
what’s really happening in Venezuela under Chavez and
his relations in the region and beyond requires only
flipping this rhetoric on its head to know the truth.
Read “Hugo Chavez’s Social Democratic Agenda” by this
writer to get the facts in detail, not O’Grady’s
agitprop fiction.  It explains the Chavez agenda
comparing it to Washington under George Bush who’s no
democrat, unlike Chavez who’s a model one.  And that’s
the problem as Bush neocons see him as their greatest
of all threats - a good example that’s spreading and
must be stopped.

O’Grady continued saying “film footage….featured
unarmed university students….caught in clouds of
tear gas, being chased and beaten by helmeted
jackboots, and fired on with water cannons.  (They
were spurred) by eight years of property
confiscations, the jailing of government adversaries
and the manipulation of voter rolls and elections (but
now) the attack on free speech hit a nerve and sent
them to the streets.” The resistance movement
“focus(es) on freedom and calls to end the
dictatorship….with polls showing more than 70% of
Venezuelans opposed to the closing of
RCTV….(there’s) simmering discontent in the economy
as well (with) Venezuelans no better off than….eight
years ago (before Chavez).  Food shortages are
growing….A perfect storm may be brewing.”

Again, turn all this on its head to know the truth -
the exact opposite of what O’Grady writes, and it’s
shameful she’s allowed to get away with it.  Sadly,
that’s the state of the dominant US media that’s right
out of Orwell with war being peace, freedom being
slavery, and ignorance being strength.  O’Grady’s
pathetic writing alone proves it.  Journalism it’s

She continues saying “Chavez has fallen from grace and
a majority of Venezuelans now want him gone (but he
won’t likely) go down without a fight.”  He has built
up support inside the military, armed a street militia
and refined intelligence tactics using Cuban
personnel….(He) no longer feels it necessary to keep
up the appearance of a democracy.”  No comment needed
except to say O’Grady got one thing right.  Chavez
does have support in the military also infiltrated
with rogue elements opposing him.  She ends her hate
piece practically calling for insurrection saying
Chavez won’t relinquish power voluntarily as O’Grady
practically demands.  But “Given his failing
popularity, a showdown, sooner or later, is more than

O’Grady writes these articles from an elitist
perspective.  Her background is from earlier Wall
Street and extremist Heritage Foundation employment
before joining the Journal.  She’s now tasked to write
black propaganda for the imperial government in
Washington she pledges fealty to.  No matter it’s a
near-fascist administration building a military
colossus, waging war on the world, shredding civil
liberties at home, and destroying the social state to
pay for it - an agenda O’Grady champions winning
awards writing about it.

Mirror opposite of what O’Grady writes, the great
majority of Venezuelans want none of it.  They had it
for generations under repressive rule till Chavez was
elected in December, 1998 and took office in February,
1999.  Under him, social democracy bloomed, and the
great majority of Venezuelans benefit under it in ways
Americans can’t imagine.  They’d be outraged to learn
they lack essential social benefits (in the richest
country in the world) all Venezuelans have - because
of Hugo Chavez’s dedication to all the people, not
just the privileged under democracy US-style. 

In Venezuela, it’s the real thing, although still a
work in progress undoing generations of governments
of, by and for the rich and well-off alone.  No
longer, and people like O’Grady denounce it because it
works so well shaming the state of things in America
she won’t reveal.  She can keep railing, but facts, in
the end, trump rhetoric, and Venezuelans have them.
They need only cite their daily lives in socially
democratic Venezuela compared to how things were in
the past.  They’re not about to go quietly into the
night letting that be lost.  They fought for it once.
If threatened, they’ll do it again, sending a message
to others - you, too, can have this.  Just go for it,
including in America where the need is greater than
ever under George Bush.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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