This Is Not A
La Lucha Continuará? (*)
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frias
b. 28 July 1954, d. 5 March 2013
Yes, all those we set up - however unconsciously - as heroes have feet of clay. All politicians have their vices. All radicals overstep the mark in some way or another.
I'm not dewy-eyed about Hugo Chávez. But I recognise that his death yesterday marks a dark day in the struggle - not just in Venezuela, but globally - to ensure that common human solidarity is the mark of what we flatter ourselves is our 'civilisation'.
What I want to touch on here, however, is not what Chávez's political legacy might or might not be, important as that is for Latin America and for the world. Rather, I want to look at something I've remarked upon before, namely the thoroughgoing and barely-disguised bias in media reporting - not only on Chávez, but on Venezuela under his rule - which has typified the corporate media in the so-called 'free world'.
As a lengthy preamble, may I ask that you read this piece, which I wrote at the time of El Presidente's visit to London in 2006? Come back when you're done.
OK? Thank you.
The thing is that, even when he's scarcely cold in his box, the hypocrisy, the hysteria and the hyper-bollocks of corporate media groupthink still follow Chávez. This piece gives a useful overview of the phenomenon from a mostly American angle, but I want to concentrate my fire on this occasion on Britain's Leading Liberal Newspaper (in, increasingly, its dreams), namely The Guardian.
For, just as its competitor The Independent [sic] poured a Niagara of mind-piss over its readers seven years ago (and continued to do so today, with an obituary which again quoted Chávez's former psychiatrist and fake liberals like Gabriel Garcia Marquez), the Grundiad has today published pieces with a similar lack of objective reality. Not content with publishing an obituary written by someone with clear ties to the organisations which launched the three-day coup d'état against the Chávez administration in 2002, they also had what purported to be journalism by one Rory Carroll, the Graun's man in the region whose output on the subject of the Bolivarian Republic has been throughout that of someone who clearly never saw a corporate oligarch's arse he had no urge to kiss.
In not one, but two screeds on the rag's website today, Carroll is not quite sufficiently stupid as to write outright lies about Chávez, instead using the techniques I described in my earlier piece; the use of certain key words or phrases to put over covertly what he didn't have the nerve to come out and say directly. Just a once-over-lightly on his witterings will give a flavour (that of a three-day-old dead rat):
Leaving aside the headline itself ("...who gets Venezuela's poisoned chalice?"), we get - as early as the third paragraph - the first little clue that wee Rory has, as they say, an angle. Venezuela has, it seems:
"...a troubled economy and a deeply polarised population..."
'Deeply polarised' seems to mean 'the small number of wealthy people didn't like him'. And we know that the small number of wealthy people in every 'free' country must always be taken seriously, whilst the majority of the remainder can go fuck themselves because they don't own things...like newspapers.
Next item on Carroll's (and, by extension, the Grunt's) barely-hidden agenda:
"...Chavez's funeral, likely...to rival Evita's."
Well done Rory, another box ticked! The one marked 'posturing personality cult'.
"To the millions who revered him - a third of the country, according to some polls..."
If he was only supported by a third of the population, how come he got such swamping majorities in every presidential election? We'll no doubt come back to this. But, no matter, he couldn't represent real democracy (such as the ones we have, in which Democracy is the only known creature in the planet's history to possess an arse with three cheeks) because he was:
"...an unparalleled showman..."
Carroll's doing well here, you have to admit. He's managed to get the 'unstable demagogue' counter onto the board. We in the old, stable UK prefer our politicians to be rather like our food; grey, undernourishing and ultimately bad for us.
He's on a real roll here, continuing his run of success with reference to:
"...the civilian militias and state media empire he created."
Terrible, isn't it, that a country which had so much going for it should turn its back on the Golden Age of US-funded death squads and a mass of television and radio stations and newspapers which exude the same anti-government propaganda from every orifice? Leaving aside, that is, the fact the most of the media in Venezuela is still in private hands, and still produces, 24/7, material which is so biased as to make Fox News look - how can I put it? - Fair And Balanced.
Little Rory then employs a body-swerve almost as elegant as that of Fingermouse by dropping this little dollop in:
"The election, should it be held by the deadline mandated by the constitution..."
The 'can't trust these dangerous radicals to play by the rules' card slipped in nicely there, forgetting (or wilfully disregarding) the fact that Chávez's election victories were all won fairly, in elections which international experts (and Jimmy Carter) said were amongst the cleanest they had ever seen, and whose one real defeat - in a referendum on a consitutional amendment - was accepted by Chávez without complaint.
Such is the groove in which Carroll so happily finds himself that, scarcely five minutes later, another of his pieces is posted to the Gourd's website. Just to prove that his earlier piece was no mere fluke of the arts of a stenographer to the powerful, straight away like a Major League slugger playing a double-header ("Hey, Alan, let's play two (-faced)!"), Lewis (sorry, I mean Rory) is hitting it with power to all areas.
So it was that Chávez lay:
..."departing this world behind drapes of official secrecy."
Presumably, in the world of the genuinely free, dying leaders should be put on public display in their final hours, lest there be any attempt to slip a ringer in there, and have a replicant take the place of The Great One in the mausoleum.
The facts about Chávez's medical condition were:
"...kept in the same vault as Fidel Castro's medical records."
Here we see a case of a very smart, quick recovery. Quite clearly, Carroll had realised with a thrill of horror which fair wobbled his expense account that in his first piece he had missed an important cliché which not even the hapless hacks of the Indy missed in '06. It has hardened into a religious dogma over the years that, when mention is made of Chávez, Fidel must, simply must be the primary comparitor. Nicely rescued, Rory!
Then, the dear boy withdraws into media language and concepts all too familiar to those of us who see it up close every day. Venezuela has, apparently, a public sector which is:
"...a swollen, politicised bureaucracy..."
So unlike the home life of our own dear public sector of course, made lean by regular blood-letting and fat-carving and made independent by handing over vast tracts of it to party donors. I mean, don't these radical Latin savages know anything about modern management techniques?
Then, Carroll gets really personal again. Chavez was:
"...a democrat and an autocrat..."
How can one be a 'democrat' and an 'autocrat'? Unless by this contradiction Carroll means that, once democratically elected to power, Chávez sought to do con amore what the people had actually, y'know, elected him to do, rather than compromise with the windy threats of the élites which had found themselves thrust out of influence?
But there's more. Chávez:
"...created a personality cult..."
Nice of him to spell out that which he had merely hinted at in his earlier piece.
"...abolished term limits..."
This is a little bit dishonest, dear boy; term limits were abolished in 2009. As a result of a little something called 'a referendum'. You know; when you actually let the population at large decide something? Shameless abuse of the democratic process, of course; far better to have Wise Old White Men decide what's good for the plebs, like indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial, or having trials held in secret whenever it suits the spooks.
But, as we all know, "It's the economy, stupid!" (or, as it is in truly progressive countries like ours under such geniuses as George Osborne, "It's the Stupid Economy!"). And so, after:
"...a decade of record oil revenues... Venezuela is falling apart..."
Well, that's what happens when you use the rightful property of the poor, downtrodden oil companies to do wicked and utterly despicable things like lift a few million people out of poverty, ensure everyone has access to good quality healthcare and give educational opportunities to anyone who can make good use of them. Far more sensible to piss your oil revenues up the wall of mass unemployment. How could they not see how foolish they were being?
"Public hospitals are dank..."
But how many patients die unnecessarily in them? I mean, compared to Mid-Staffordshire, for example?
"...prisons filthy and barbaric."
Funny thing; I thought that that was the way they were supposed to be? That, at least, is what Chris Grayling seems to think.
"The currency was recently devalued for the fifth time in a decade."
Not like our own wonderfully stable Sterling which, serving for a post-imperial virility symbol, has to be kept up and rising at all cocks...erm, sorry...costs, even if it means pricing your exports out of world markets.
"Many young professionals have emigrated."
Including one who writes for the Gooniad himself, and who always comments on how absolutely dreadful everything is in Venezuela from the vantage of a front-row seat...at the University of Maastricht.
Finally however, as if some rodentine instinct in his back-brain had spurred him to realise that only the chronically malinformed could possibly take any more without recognising concentrated bollocks on a plinth, Carroll shows that he's really an old softy. Chávez was:
"...revered by millions. The slums...felt he was on their side. He...spent lavishly on health clinics, literacy courses and social programmes..."
(Note that word 'lavishly' there, though; typical of the spendthrift left, who think that there's a 'magic money tree' and that it's all right to shake down people who are struggling to get by on half a million a year just so that someone's future feral teenager needn't die of cholera before he can get into a 'faith' school).
All the same:
"Poverty tumbled, health indicators improved and thousands got jobs in the expanding state sector"
For which he may never be forgiven, obviously. Where were the thrusting, dynamic, grab-what-you-can-and fuck-you entrepreneurs that any properly-ordered economy needs? They couldn't all have pissed off to the Netherlands, could they?
But there's a 'but' lurking, of course:
"But problems began to mount. Pulling the plug on RCTV, an opposition TV station.."
Gasp! The thug! But wait...
...an opposition TV station that had backed the 2002 coup..."
Serious question: if, for the sake of argument, Sky News (to choose a name totally at random) had openly broadcast programmes in support of the overthrow of the elected government of the UK, do you think that even those weak-kneed captives at Ofcom would have let them keep their licence? In any case, RCTV - a private channel - merely lost its access to publicly-owned transmitters; it has continued its relentless diet of hysteria on satellite ever since.
I could go on a little further, but bedtime beckons. That such deliberate mis-statements can be produced in extenso in a newspaper read by people who - with a degree of justification - would regard themselves as being of above-average intelligence and awareness of the world, and can be published in slightly varying forms time after time with a sense of near-impunity, is indicative of a sickness at the heart of self-styled 'progressive' thought. We deserve to be better served; but only if we insist that what we are given shows at least a modicum of respect for that intelligence and that awareness. Otherwise, we deserved to be kept in that state described by the much-missed Paul Foot when he remarked - on the subject of the UK press' coverage of the 'Carnation Revolution' which overthrew the Caetano dictatorship in Portugal in 1974 - "If you don't know what's happening in Portugal, you must be reading the newspapers."
(*) The Struggle Continues?