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Writing Off Democracy in Venezuela, US Press and Politicians Dream of a Coup

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When are elections free and fair, according to corporate media? When the US government says they are.

The May 20 Venezuelan presidential elections pit Hugo Chavez’s successor, President Nicolas Maduro, against opposition challenger Henri Falcon. Maduro has called for the United Nations to observe and oversee the contest. Despite calling for elections throughout 2017, many local opposition groups, together with the US government, have demanded no observers should come, arguing that it would “validate” the elections, and have preemptively decided they will not recognize the victor.

Miami Herald (5/2/18)

The US State Department (2/8/18) has cast doubt on the validity of the elections, claiming they represent a “dismantling” of Venezuela’s democracy, as “they do not have the agreement of all political parties.” That the country is ruled by a dictator presiding over fake elections is taken as a given by corporate media; the Miami Herald (5/2/18) declared the contest “fraudulent,” a “sham,” a “charade” and a “joke” in one column alone.

The major argument for this declaration is the barring of certain candidates from running, chiefly Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez is under house arrest after being convicted of leading a violent coup attempt against the government in 2014, and was also a key member of the 2002 coup against Chavez; even the State Department has called him “arrogant, vindictive and power-hungry.” Glossing over or simply not mentioning these key details in a 9,000-word puff piece, the New York Times Magazine (3/1/18) presented him as a Christ-like figure, “the most prominent political prisoner in Latin America, if not the world,” comparing him to Martin Luther King.

This is hardly the first time media have labeled elections in Venezuela a sham. As detailed in my new book, Bad News From Venezuela: 20 Years of Fake News and Misreporting, US media overwhelmingly presented, by a 12:1 ratio, the 2013 elections as unclean. The Miami Herald (4/13/13) claimed that there was “evidence that the country’s 2.4 million public-sector workers, and hundreds of thousands of government welfare recipients, were being pressured to vote along party lines,” and that “the media disparity is one of the most visible examples of the government’s campaign advantage,” with Maduro lording over a huge state media empire and the opposition “competing” on the “cowed” private media.

As the Washington Post (4/11/13) summed up:

Unsurprisingly, polls show that Mr. Maduro will win this grossly one-sided contest. If by some chance


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