Thursday, February 23, 2006

The workings of the chavista propaganda machine

The Internet wars are tough. But the pen and paper, or e-mail wars are not any less tougher. Chavismo has been funding many things to fight back what they term anti Chavez propaganda on line (such as yours truly who has been accused of all but receiving a fat check directly from Condi Rice). Unfortunately to date the only agencies in these information wars that have been proven to receive some official help are from the Chavez camp, whereas no one from this side of the divide has been nailed as a paid agent of the CIA, and gosh, has the CIA “been proven” to fund anything, ANYTHING, in Venezuela that damages Chavez glory: falling bridges, bad crops, bad weather or cab strikes, you name it, the CIA is behind it. At any rate, we, opposition bloggers or other web sites, are either brilliant at covering our traces, or we are stupid at refusing outside help; the gentle reader will decide :)

This morning I got the latest offensive, this time against a recently published article by Vinod Sreeharsha, a US citizen covering some issues in Latin America for the Christian Science Monitor, among other. I was “interviewed” by Vinod long time ago. He seemed to be the fair type of journalist that tries to cover all bases and tries to find a good thing to write for each side. Well, he is meeting the harsh Venezuelan reality. Imagine that! It seems that his latest entry did not please at all the Venezuelan Information Office, one of the may lobbying groups paid by Chavez in the US.

Below I post their “action alert” which by the way I was told by my correspondent that it might not be legal since it did not add at the end that the VIO is funded by Venezuela. But since when legalities have been of concern for the glorious revolution? In brackets my comments inserted where necessary.

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Subject: Two Negative Media Stories on Venezuela--Your Help is Needed

TWO STORIES REQUIRE YOUR RESPOSNE Earlier this week, two major newspapers ran separate stories extraordinarily critical of the current political scene in Venezuela. While bad coverage of Venezuela in the mainstream media is nothing new, both of these articles are significant for their level of imbalance and the extreme nature of their views. Your help is needed to correct the record. Please take the time to write a quick letter to the editor.

"Venezuela's Unrealized Revolution" Christian Science Monitor Monday, February 20, 2006

Christian Science Monitor correspondent Vinod Sreeharsha interviews three disaffected Venezuelans who originally voted for President Hugo Chavez and now are dissatisfied with the administration. The interviewees present a laundry-list of "infrastructure" problems and imply that life for Venezuela's poor has declined, rather than improved over the last six years. [there is much more than “infrastructure problems” problems in the Vinod article, but this fixation show how hurt chavismo is by the collapsed bridge, to the point that all is now a counter campaign on “infrastructure”. Highly amusing if you ask me.]

The article notes that Chavez's support has been "slipping", but does not mention that approval ratings merely dipped from 70% to 65%. [Again, unfounded poll wars, a favorite of chavismo. For the record, I have written that polling in a post-Tascon-list country is highly unreliable as many people simply will B.S. any pollster that crosses their path, even more if the said pollster might be perceived as been sent by the government]. By leaving the numbers out, the article implies that the President does not maintain majority support, and that the four Venezuelans interviewed make up majority opinion. [this is a willful misreading, a distortion, of Vinod’s words that bear posting: “maintains a high domestic approval rating and has no viable challenger in the presidential election scheduled for Dec. 3. But polls show his support slipping slightly in recent months”. So, either VIO is distorting or they do not know how to read. Vinod clearly implies that no matter what the polls say his perception is that Chavez is STILL well above 50%. Why the VIO fuss? To close for comfort?]

Neither does the story note the role of the undemocratic forces within the Venezuelan opposition in any "infrastructure" problems the country may have. Remember in the past 4 years alone, the Chavez administration has faced an attempted coup d'etat, a nationwide "strike" of oil executives that crippled the economy, and a recall referendum. [and here we go back to the old canard that seems to serve as the SOLE excuse left for chavismo arsenal of excuses. For the record, Chavez has been in office for 7 years and the “troubles" lasted from April 2002 until August 2004, that is 2 years and 4 months out of 7 years.No wonder the polls on Chavez are dipping: when you live in Venezuela you know how to do simple political arithmetic, something the VIO hopes its readers and activists in the US do not do]

The opposition likes to argue that the Chavez administration has not stayed on top of things like bridge maintanence [sic] or pothole fixing, yet they haven't given the administration an opportunity to govern without interference. [This one was my favorite!!! Whoever wrote this precious line is either deliberately lying or totally ignorant of Venezuela history. S/he would have us believe that Chavez is the ONLY president who suffered a strong opposition, forgetting that Romulo Betancourt had to face guerilla, two coup d’etat attempts, an assassination attempt which left him badly injured; that Carlos Andres Perez was actually impeached and removed from office; that Caldera ruled twice a minority government and still managed to accomplish more “infrastructure work” than Chavez. The nerve!]

Letters may be sent to the Christian Science Monitor using this form. For tips on writing an effective letter to the editor, please visit [this page]

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You know what? I suggest that some of the readers of this blog send a quiet and relaxed letter using these same links just given to congratulate Vinod’s article and to show that without money we can challenge the VIO sabotage and distortion all the same. Links courtesy of VIO, by the way.

PS: there was also an action alert against the Financial Time. Since it is a pay site I cannot make a rebuttal the way I did above. However from the VIO note I retain this gem:
Like the Christian Science Monitor article, this story in the Financial Times does not quote a single pro-Chavez source.
I could only laugh my head off!!!! Anyone that reads the pro Chavez papers such as VEA or the governmental outlets such as RNV or VTV would be hard pressed to find significant quoting of anti-Chavez sources. Yes, that is right, the VIO DEMANDS outside of Venezuela what is not happening at all inside the official media of Venezuela. Ah! The Hypocrisy of it all! Capital H intended.

You know, sometimes this blogging job is really fun.

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