(Breaking Update) Venezuela: Where Is the (International) Outrage?

SOS Venezuela

Breaking Update:

Under the headline, “Venezuela tells CNN journalists to ‘get out,’” CNN has just reported:

Venezuela has revoked or denied press credentials for CNN journalists in the country, following the president’s announcement he would expel CNN if it did not “rectify” its coverage of anti-government protests.

Read more here

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Update:

The Guardian reports:

The Venezuelan military plans to send additional troops to a border region where unrest has been particularly fierce, officials said, as the government faced growing criticism for its heavy-handed attempt to subdue a protest movement with nighttime sweeps that have turned many parts of the country into dangerous free-fire zones.

The interior minister, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, said a battalion of paratroopers would be dispatched to the state of Tachira, on the western border with Colombia, where protesters have clashed with police and national guard units, bringing the state capital, San Cristobal, to a halt.

Read more here

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Original post:

As the violence and repression continue in Venezuela, the grim headlines in blogs and web sites covering the Venezuelan rebellion say it all:

• “The Night Venezuela Finally Imploded

• “Sliding to Venezuelan hell…

• “A night of violence and murder in Venezuela as the Cuba-backed dictatorship unleashes wave of terror

In “Venezuela: The Game Changed Last Night,” one reads:

Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unraveling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden. What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood. Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries…

The headlines also express pessimism and desperation: ”As Protests Become Widespread, So Does Repression in Venezuela.”

But they also express grief for the deaths of so many innocent people, in particular for the death of the beautiful, 22-year-old Génesis Carmona, who was Miss Tourism Venezuela and who tragically died Wednesday as a result of a gunshot to the head she suffered during Tuesday’s demonstrations in Valencia, Venezuela.

Venezuela  Genesis Carmona

Génesis Carmona (Photo courtesy dolar.com)

At dolartoday.com, Octavio De Lamo expresses his grief, Venezuela’s grief, in this manner (author’s translation):

I can not contain my tears at the news of the death of Génesis Carmona. I can not, because I think of her parents, her family and her friends. I can not because I think of my children, because I think of my grandchildren.

I can not because I think of all the wonderful young people who fill the streets hoping to express their thoughts when an evil bullet, fired by an evil official, obeying the orders of an even more evil ruler, strikes a beautiful young lady, barely 23, just to make it clear who are the ones who rule.

De Lamo firmly believes that his cry is shared by millions of Venezolanos who find no explanation for the perverse regime and who feel that the bullet that killed Génesis was meant for all the young people who are fighting for a better future, because the bullet’s aim was “to kill the future, because the regime is as afraid of the future as it is of the young people who symbolize it.”

Many are highlighting examples of bravery as shown in the photo below how residents of one community “are no longer afraid and stopped this tank” or by calling for a more intense battle for freedom and urging “everyone to the streets this Saturday.

Venezuela se acabo el miedo

Photo courtesy dolartoday.com

Others cry out for support. One Facebook site by its very name simply and dramatically calls for help: “SOS Venezuela.” (Lead image courtesy SOS Venezuela)

But one thing for certain, Venezuelans — and others — are disappointed by the lack of attention and coverage thus far given their struggle by the international press and community.

For example:

• Hit & Run: Is Western Media Ignoring a Violent Political Crackdown in Venezuela?

• Mediaite: Venezuelan Journalist Rightly Wonders Why American Media Ignores Unfolding Crisis

• Babalú Blog: Media silence flabbergasts/enrages Venezuelan freedom-lovers

At Caracas Chronicles, under the banner, “The Game Changed in Venezuela Last Night – and the International Media Is Asleep At the Switch,” Francisco Toro writes alongside a photo of San Cristobal on Tuesday night:

Venezuela san cristobal

“San Cristobal on Tuesday Night” (Photo courtesy Caracas Chronicles)

Dear International Editor:

Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow motion unraveling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.
What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.

Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting. People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses:

National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street. And that’s just what came out in real time, over Twitter and YouTube, before any real investigation is carried out. Online media is next, a city of 645,000 inhabitants has been taken off the internet amid mounting repression, and this blog itself has been the object of a Facebook “block” campaign.

What we saw were not “street clashes”, what we saw is a state-hatched offensive to suppress and terrorize its opponents.

After the major crackdown on the streets of major (and minor) Venezuelan cities last night, I expected some kind of response in the major international news outlets this morning. I understand that with an even bigger and more photogenic freakout ongoing in an even more strategically important country, we weren’t going to be front-page-above-the-fold, but I’m staggered this morning to wake up, scan the press and find…

Nothing.

Commenting on a screenshot of a New York Times front page, Toro concludes, “As of 11 a.m. this morning, the New York Times World Section has…nothing,” and makes similar observations of other media outlets’ websites.

Perhaps the world is focused on the crisis in the Ukraine or mesmerized by the Winter Olympics, but that is no reason for, as Toro concludes, “looking through these pages and finding nothing. Venezuela burns; nobody cares.”

  

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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17 Comments

  1. Dorian, South America has never gotten much attention from the press or otherwise, it deserves more.

  2. @Willwright

    True, but there is something very strange going on here.

    Even Fox News, who, rightly or wrongly, loves to hate the Venezuelan government has been silent on this.

  3. ” Venezuela burns; nobody cares.”

    That may be correct. However I Saw it on NBC news even though it was back seat to the Ukraine unrest.
    Reuters is carrying it, PBS is carrying it, Al Jazeera is carrying it, ABC, NYT and a few others. Fox News will carry it when they are instructed to carry it and will say what they are told to say about it.

  4. This could be one reason:

    Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has threatened to expel the US news network CNN from the country over its reporting of recent protests there.

    Mr Maduro said he would take action if CNN did not “rectify its coverage.

  5. Even Fox News, who, rightly or wrongly, loves to hate the Venezuelan government has been silent on this.

    Maybe the powers that be at Fox think the American public is capable of paying attention to only one crisis at a time, i.e. situation in Ukraine. Could be the rest of the media is doing more or less the same. A crisis in Europe or the Middle East is always going to get more ink or airtime, rightly or wrongly.

  6. “rightly or wrongly,” you’re right, Willwright :)

  7. Egypt, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela… who wants to pay the price to confront evil? It’s a recurring question, but after the Bush/Cheney War it’s become much harder to answer. I’m interested in the whole business of a government military (or National Guard) being willing to commit violence on it’s own people. What is the mindset there? How would our own military respond if there was massive civil unrest? At what point would the imperative to follow orders be preempted by conscience?

  8. How would our own military respond if there was massive civil unrest? At what point would the imperative to follow orders be preempted by conscience?

    Wow, JS. You have opened up a “can of worms,” since our military — National Guard and federal troops — have been used numerous times to “quell” civil disturbances.

    Just think of the Los Angeles “riots,” Detroit, Rochester N.Y., Kent State, and as far back as the “Whiskey Rebellion.”

    According to some authors “Between 1775 and 1994, the U.S. military has been utilized by the President on at least 136 occasions to contain and overwhelm labor “unrest” (80 times) and racial or civil “unrest” (56 times).” But, “A Report Submitted to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence,” discloses over 160 occasions on which State and Federal troops have intervened in labor disputes alone. “

    As a matter of fact there are numerous executive orders and Congressional Acts (in spite of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act making it illegal for the government to deploy its military against “civil disturbances.” — “eroded” by amendments and executive orders**) and military plans (e.g. DOD Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2DOD), manuals (e.g. US Army Field Manual FM 3-19.15, Civil Disturbance Operations)and regulations for such interventions.

    Now, the internet is full of conspiracy theories on this subject — on how “the U.S. military is training troops and police to suppress democratic opposition in America,” etc.

    I don’t subscribe to these theories; I just want to point out that we have had instances of “our own military response to civil unrest.”

    As to “At what point would the imperative to follow orders be preempted by conscience?” my answer — my hope — is “at a very early point.”

    Sorry for the lengthy comment

    ** In 2007, under the Bush administration, a measure was inserted in the Pentagon spending bill “to amend the Posse Comitatus Act to clear the way for the domestic deployment of the military in the event of natural disaster, terrorist attack or “other conditions in which the president determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order.”

  9. Thank-you Dorian for your thoughtful and informative response. I’m no conspiracy theorist either, if anything I tend to be a skeptic. I do find it fascinatingly abhorent that a military composed of people from a citizenry are willing to commit violence against that same citizenry merely because someone in a position of power tells them to do so. It begs the question of who a military is really loyal to. The same could be asked about various police forces for that matter (which is a question arising more and more often lately). I understand the concept of following orders, but have a harder time understanding the subjugation of conscience. I realize there isn’t anything new about this concern, but it seems to be as relevant as ever.

  10. Now that we’ve veered into the logical conclusion of this discussion; it is well to remember that in every uprising/revolution from Rome to France to Russia the winners are those the army (or the army’s leaders) chose to side with.

    Which brings us to the problem of a volunteer military. When the average conscripts are missing, their awareness of just who they owe their duty and loyalty to is also missing. Mercenaries answer only to those who pay them. Not all volunteers are mercenaries, but the lines tend to become blurred.

    If I were going to plan a military coup, a volunteer military would be my first step. Of course I’d have to wait until all the pre-volunteer folks had retired before I could act. When did the all-volunteer military begin, again?

  11. Thanks JS and T.O

    You are opening such a vast subject for discussion, that we could probably continue forever.

    You are right on both counts, JS. The “subjugation of conscience” and the fact that this concern is as relevant now as ever, and probably will always be as long as we have governments and instruments of power and force.

    The Nuremberg Principles, the 1945 Charter of the International Military Tribunal and so many other charters, agreements, laws, legal and scholarly articles, etc. address this — the “Nuremberg defense” — and we still have not resolved the “conscience” issue.

    T.O., I don’t know if a volunteer (added: or conscript) army would be a factor or even resolve this, but then again I am no expert and would be willing to try anything….

  12. OK, I might have pried open the lid on the can of worms, but Ohio finished ripping it off the rest of the way. ;-) As you say Dorian, it opens a vast subject for discussion.

  13. This has been ignored in Germany as well…due to the Ukraine and its importance to the EU. I think attention will turn to Venezuela soon. The blood has stopped flowing in Europe so the media will be looking for their next headline.

  14. Why is everyone ignoring Egypt? Is it because, the U.S. supports the military and not the people of Egypt. And, since we hate Chavez and his programs, I have no fear that now that the Ukraine situation, which still could explode if Russia decides to intervening militarily, is a little quieter, it will be included after Syria and Iran in the news spotlight. Yes, we have a hard time focusing on more than a couple of trouble spots, especially if the people involved are brown or black (Sudan).

  15. dd

    From what I understand, the U.S. supports the people of Egypt who were with the army in overthrowing the duly elected Islamist Morsi because he didn’t follow through on promised reforms.

    The protesters (and suicide bombers) now are the Islamist groups who helped elect Morsi. Can’t tell the players without a scorecard.

  16. especially if the people involved are brown or black (Sudan)

    I was thinking the same thing.

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