Sunday, December 29, 2002
I have found very little insightful coverage of the Venezuelan situation. What is really going on? The mainstream media says that a nationwide “general strike” has halted the economy. It began December 2nd, and has now succeeded in shutting down the important oil sector. For instance, the Washington Post reports here today that the oil-rice Venezuela is now ironically importing gasoline from Brazil.
But check this out: I was listening to an NPR story about a week before Christmas, before the oil sector had been shut down. A correspondent in Caracas was being interviewed. As usual, there was hardly any elucidation about what sectors are striking and who is supporting Chavez. As with most coverage in the U.S. on the Venezuela situation, the casual listener could be lead to believe that this is a movement by the general populace against an incompitent president. But there was one kicker comment: When asked what the prospects were of the oil industry being shut down, the NPR correspondent said that “it depends on whether the managers convince the other workers to join the strike.” Here the key issue of class slips out, but only as a peep.
Chavez is a populist president supported by the poor. Venezuela is a country which, like many Latin American nations, has significant income inequality. There clearly is strong opposition to Chavez, but there are also masses of fervent supporters.
So... the oil industry was shut down. Did the workers join in the strike? To me, this remains unclear. If they did, I am curious why. There are indications that they did not. Two independent media sources call what is going on as being not a strike, but a lock out.
LINK Vheadlines.com is one. Their site is reported from Venezuela, but I find it confusing to navigate. Narconews has been the most critical. Here, in his "Chronology of the Strike that Wasn't", Narconews founder Al Giordano says that a general strike didn’t happen and that it all has been played up by shoddy reporting by the media. I’m going to quote from this article:
The “strike” never happened. There was conflict. There were marches. There was even eco-terrorism. Some events worth reporting did happen, but they were not reported honestly by the Pinocchios of the Commercial Media.
That article has a chronology of events, and again it is available HERE.
Again, NPR, Reuters, and the AP wire convey the notion that there is this general strike because Chavez is harming the country. The Bushies push this view, too. But what is Chavez doing that is so bad? Does it compare to the harm caused to the nation by the disruption of oil flow plus the abrogation of constitution? (The constitution allows for a referrendum on Chavez's performance in August 2003 but the opposition can't wait.) I really don't see any description in our main stream press which says WHAT the opposition is opposed to. I don't see it here in this Reuters article. In sixteen articles on Venezuela at the Washington Post sight, I found one that gave genuinely useful details about why the opposition is mad at Chavez. [Unfortunately I lost it during a blogspot page-refresh accident. I took too long to post my post and it disappeared. I also lost a link to an AP article about a Peruvian shaman who chugged the hallucinogenic drug Ayahuasca and spoke about Chavez' political future. Oh, the quips I forgo.]
See also this press release from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.