(FAIR) — Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, people are rising up against right-wing, US-backed governments and their neoliberal austerity policies.
Currently in Chile, the government of billionaire Sebastian Piñera has deployed the army to crush nationwide demonstrations against inequality sparked by a subway fare hike.
In Ecuador, indigenous peoples, workers and students recently brought the country to a standstill during 11 days of protests against the gutting of fuel subsidies by President Lenín Moreno as part of an IMF austerity package.
One might expect these popular rebellions to receive unreservedly sympathetic coverage from international media that claim to be on the side of democracy and the common people. On the contrary, corporate journalists frequently describe these uprisings as dangerous alterations of “law and order,” laden with “violence,” “chaos” and “unrest.”
This portrait contrasts remarkably with coverage of anti-government protests in Venezuela, where generally the only violence highlighted is that allegedly perpetrated by the state. In the eyes of Western elite opinion, Venezuela’s middle-class opposition have long been leaders of a legitimate popular protest against an authoritarian, anti-American regime. Poor people rebelling against repressive US client states are considered an unacceptable deviation from this script.
‘Crackdown’ in Venezuela
Corporate journalists have never been able to contain their enthusiasm for the right-wing Venezuelan opposition’s repeated coup attempts, which are regularly cast as a “pro-democracy” movement (FAIR.org, 5/10/19).
In 2017, Venezuela’s opposition led four months of violent, insurrectionary protests demanding early presidential elections, resulting in over 125 dead, including protesters, government supporters and bystanders. It was the opposition’s fifth major effort to oust the government by force since 2002.
Despite the demonstrations featuring attacks on journalists, lynchings and assassinations of government supporters, they were depicted as a “uprising” against “authoritarianism” (New York Times, 6/22/17), a “rebellion” in the face of “the government’s crackdown” (Bloomberg, 5/18/17) and a David-like movement of “young firebrands” facing down a sinister regime (Guardian, 5/25/17). Reporters frequently attributed the mounting death toll to state security forces (France 24, 7/21/17; Newsweek, 6/20/17; Washington Post, 6/3/17), while generally ignoring opposition political violence reported to be responsible for over 30 deaths.