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Media Review: Al-Jazeera and Venezuela

By Alexandra Beech,

It is interesting that the Arab news network Al-Jazeera has taken an avid interest in Venezuela . Arabs living in New York tell me that the Middle Eastern media often portrays Chavez in his favorite role, as a champion of the poor, despite figures showing that poverty has increased under his mandate.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the virulently anti-US Al-Jazeera is now focusing primarily on Chavez’s anti-US statements.

“Violence breaks out in Venezuela” is not really article about violence. The caption under a photograph of Chavez speaking in front of a painting of Simon Bolivar reads, “Chaves has persistently accused the US of wanting his ouster.”

The first sentence of the article, rather than describing the disturbing events that took place in Caracas on Sunday, opens: “Fighting broke out in Caracas as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused a US government-funded nonprofit organization of funding opposition groups.”

Only half the article reports that witnesses said that “Chavez supporters allegedly threw stones, bottles and firecrackers at opposition supporters visiting a local mayor detained at security police headquarters” and that “[a]rmed officers guarding the Caracas headquarters of the DISIP political police did not intervene to stop the attack.” In fact, it was the first incidence of violence in the weeks leading to the referendum, by “masked youths” who support Chavez. The victims were visiting popular Baruta mayor and political prisoner Henrique Capriles Radonski, who was celebrating his 32nd birthday.

The other half of the article highlights comments during his weekly show. According to Al-Jazeera, “Chavez showed what he said was a document proving that US-based National Endowment for Democracy gave $300,000 to several opposition groups.” In addition, “Chavez said the money given by the endowment was used by the opposition to draft a government plan titled Country Consensus as a blueprint for a post-Chavez Venezuela.”

Al-Jazeera offers no evidence or interviews to prove or disprove Chavez’s claims.

Anyone who wonders whether Venezuela’s crisis has an impact on the rest of the world, particularly where terrorists live and multiply, should view Al-Jazeera. Chavez’s anti-US remarks are not fodder for local consumption, as a Chavez representative in Washington once said.

They are consumed by all.

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