Is Western Media Ignoring a Violent Political Crackdown in Venezuela?

Reports of paramilitary groups trawling middle class neighborhoods for potential protesters


san cristobal, venezuela
Caracas Chronicles

Venezuela has seen protests against Nicolas Maduro's failing government for weeks, and they escalated after opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez surrendered himself to government authorities on charges of inciting violence.

Francisco Toro at the Caracas Chronicles writes that a state-sponsored campaign of violence in Venezuela last night has changed the nature of what's happening in the country:

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…


Read the whole thing, full of links, here.

According to Reuters, a 17-year-old beauty queen shot yesterday was the fifth fatality of the unrest.  President Obama criticized the arrest of protesters by the Venezuelan government while in Mexico yesterday, and urged it to address "legitimate grievances."

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  1. "Is Western Media Ignoring a Violent Political Crackdown in Venezuela?"

    Pretty much. I mean whatever tin-pot dictator is in power there now, well, he means well. And he hates anybody making a profit, so why should anyone cover it if he has to break a couple of heads?
    Upton Sinclair, re the USSR: "[...] There has never been in human history a great social change without killing".

    1. Classic Robespierre from Sinclair there: "Pour faire une omelette, il faut casser des oeufs."

      The more things change ...

    2. Huh, so socialism doesn't work, even when there's a shitload of money coming in for oil. That seems like news, too.

      1. They just need to nationalize the right Top. Men. and they'll be okay.

      2. Hell, the Socialists had control of Mexico for, what, six decades? And at the end of that time, the State owned Oil industry was LOSING money?

  2. Only five fatalities so far? Those Venezuelans aren't even trying. The Ukrainians are already up to 70.

    1. UKR! UKR! UKR! UKR!

    2. Ha! You know what the Ukraine is? The Ukraine is a sitting duck. A road apple, Seamus. The Ukraine is weak, it's feeble. I think it's time to put the hurt on the Ukraine.

      1. Would you like to make a statement as to the strength or lack thereof of a certain Eastern European country? Inquiring minds....

        1. Ukraine is game to you?!?

    3. I doubt it's only five. I've seen all five on cell phone footage. And in a country that averages roughly 75 homicides on any given day, five would be an improvement.

  3. I kind of miss the leftist apologists trying to spin the deterioration in Venezuela as isolated incidents of a basically good democracy.

    Well, OK, not really. But the mocking would be fun.

    1. Check the PM links. Serious Man posted some idiot's defense of Venezuela, how good the regime has been for the people, and how the evil Western Media lies about the country to portray the government in a bad light.

      1. Haven't you heard, all these protest have in fact been orchestrated by the CIA. US support for regime change in Venezuela is a mistake

        1. And McCain was handing out candy!

        2. Wow those comments. How do you even talk to true believers? Everything was going great in Venezuela until the US came along and hated to see communism working. I sure hope they're all in the UK. That place is fucked anyway.

          1. ..."Everything was going great in Venezuela until the US came along and hated to see communism working."...

            Just like O-care and rethug wreckers!

          2. Well, the government *does* have a knack for screwing up anything it touches, so it's sorta believable.

      2. That's an exception, though. The usual suspects of left-wing news outlets have been pretty mum or just matter-of-fact about it.

        Even they realize Maduro is an embarrassment to the left and won't defend him.

        1. It is an exception *now that Chavez and Bush are not in power*. In 2005, you could be forgiven for thinking Chavez was going to be the next Dem presidential nominee, for how much progressives waxed rhapsodic over him.

          Also worth noting that (unfortunately) the American left has gotten over Chavez's ignoble experiment, but the left in Latin America not so much.

          1. It still pisses me off that once again, the left will get away with throwing support behind a socialist thug and then quietly pretending it never happened once his true nature, which was obvious to everyone else all along, becomes absolutely undeniable.

            1. Who are you talking about? Chavez/Maduro or Obama?

          2. Did Rodman ever visit Chavez?

    2. Spicoli is strangely silent lately. Anyone heard from that leftard moron?


      1. He's having a vacation in Mexico with his new love, Charlize Theron.,00.html

        I'm so disappointed in her.

  4. Why no coverage? Because the leftists care about the poor, and that's all that counts.

  5. That's funny, HuffPo was just telling me about the American media is refusing to report on all the great and wonderful things Chavez's cronies have done for Venezuela, and have thrown their lot in with the "protesters" who are obviously the paid henchmen of international corporations.

    1. The Koch brothers are behind this! I knows it! I knows it!

    2. Oh yeah the useful idiots are already out there pretty much saying that. I am sure the Free Masons will enter into the conspiracy theorists before to long.

    3. They should be made to live there. Better yet, send them there on a tour without telling the government thugs. Just get out at the airport (if you can find a flight in) and catch a taxi.

      They'd disappear.

    4. Has anyone mentioned an international Jewish conspiracy yet? Or is that just Ukraine?

    5. The American left defends out of the closet socialist causing public havoc with policies designed to punish capitalist, but don't you DARE call them socialist. They just appreciate good intentions when they see them.

  6. 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

    A bit like the Hungarian Uprising in '56: it got overshadowed by the Suez Crisis.

  7. My mom lives in the idyllic suburban community of Weston, Florida, locally referred to as Westonzuela. Huge Venezuelan population. If I go to Walgreens there I can buy a t-shirt with the Venezuelan flag. Nice city. Worst part about it is that if you live there, you have the privilege of being represented in Congress by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

    Anyhoo, I'm going to have to drop by the big Venezuelan restaurant in town on the way home. That place gets interesting when there's goings on. Suffice to say that Chavez, and now Maduro, are less popular there than... well, pretty much anything you can think of.

    1. Wait a minute ... are you saying that latinos who have fled oppressive tyrants aren't automatic Democratic voters?

      Because I've been assured that this is unpossible, all latinos being exactly alike and in the pocket of Big Blue.

      1. But for the over the top reaction from Team Red when Bush and McCain, to his rare credit, were trying to get immigration reform through, Obama would have had to have begged much harder for the Latin turn out in '08. I don't think there is anything resembling a natural love there.

    2. Worst part about it is that if you live there, you have the privilege of being represented in Congress by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

      That actually qualifies them for taking off and nuking them from orbit.

      Just to be sure.

      1. Nuking from orbit is always a smart first move.

  8. President Obama criticized the arrest of protesters by the Venezuelan government while in Mexico yesterday, and urged it to address "legitimate grievances."

    Notice what he didn't say is what constitutes "legitimate grievances."

    1. Do they have accessible and affordable health care with protections for patients?

      1. Plenty of access, not much care.

    2. They're trying to stop a pipeline or something from being built, right?

    1. I'll say this for Chavez, he at least had enough charisma to build up a cult of personality. It seems like Maduro is just a thug. And if all you have is thugishness, well, this shit is bound to happen sooner or later.

      1. Seems to be working pretty well in NORK. I know the populace acts like they love dear leader, but do they really, or are they just scared shitless?

        1. One of the most disturbing things I've ever seen was a NatGeo documentary about the DPRK that followed an Indian eye doctor's trip to North Korea to perform eye surgeries.

          One woman had her sight restored by having eye cataracts removed and the first thing she did was grab a picture of the Dear Leader and start weeping in gratitude to him.

          1. Same thing happens here, only it's God instead of Dear Leader. And say what you want about Dear Leader, at least I know he existed.

            1. Are you seriously trying to argue that religious belief is somehow worse than the indoctrination that goes on in N Korea?

              If so, that's really, really stupid of you.

            2. You deny the existence of Obama the Magnificent?

            3. You don't believe God exists. So, if God does not exist, then he has no power to imprison you and torture you to death, yet you have a problem with that? You prefer someone who does have this power?

          2. she knew she was being recorded.

            1. +1 TeleScreen.

        2. I suspect that some are suffering from some kind of Stockholm syndrome, and think they love Dear Leader, while others are scared. Others are in work camps. Some have even been born in the camps and have no idea what their parents did to get thrown in there and basically have no idea that there's anything better.

          In a sick, twisted way their total isolationism works quite well for them. They can set up a personality cult around Dear Leader which will "brainwash," for lack of a better term, some of the population. Those who aren't brainwashed are fed a constant stream of propaganda about how the rest of the world is evil to the point where they lose all hope for something better, and any others who still won't submit are rounded up and thrown into camps.

          1. there was that guy who escaped cause he had heard of something called grilled joke. He also tattled on his parents and had them sent to a death camp.

            dude is doing better now though, lives in LA I think.

        3. I know the populace acts like they love dear leader, but do they really, or are they just scared shitless?

          Do you know what happens to people there who do not properly love dear leader?

          I know that couldn't have been a serious question.

    2. So basically they're setting up Maduro as Stalin, the ruthless thug, and Chavez as Lenin/Trotsky--left-wing saints that had their beautiful movements hijacked by a monster.

      1. Which is laughable; Lenin would have easily out-murdered Stalin if he'd had the population and lived long enough.

        1. Really? And here I thought Lenin created the Cheka, the Gulag, and the Soviet Union's single-party totalitarian state so he could demonstrate to the world how awesome Lenin is by not using them to initiate a reign of terror.

          1. Well, he did hold off until nearly the end of 1917...

    3. Holy smoke, on article on Slate that is actually worth reading

      Yeah, sure, Lucy, THIS time you're not gonna move the football...right...

      1. Don't talk about Lucy!

    1. It is interesting, isn't it, how just about any system on Earth created on those economic principles shortly becomes an economic hellhole regardless of prior performance. You'd think people would learn...

      1. You don't understand! The right people weren't in charge, we're going to get it right this time! Socialism has never been done right yet! We have the right dear leader this time, you'll see, capitalist scum!

        1. But then Venezuela is the perfect example of why "having the right people in charge" is a goddamned stupid idea.

          If one wants to believe that Chavez was "right people" it doesn't do any fucking good because he can't live forever and he certainly had no fucking clue on how to identify the "right successor".

          1. It was the stache, dude. Everyone just gets mesmerized by the right stache. How else can you explain Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and John Stossel?

            1. You're right, when i was in the Navy pre-'stache i had no real authority but i grew myself a double fister massive mustachio from hell and bam instant authority or it was cuz I got promoted to E-6 i forget which but im going to blame the 'Stache it was mighty

          2. Exactly, even if you get the most qualified, effective, and benevolent person in charge, giving that person the power to greatly affect and rebuild society, that person will eventually die. Eventually, you'll have someone who is not terribly interested in the welfare of the population come into possession of the immense power that was granted to his predecessors. Guess what will happen?

      2. I think the socialists actually believe their own drivel. What really put this over the boiling point was not the incredibly high inflation, not the lack of infrastructure, not the fraud and waste and racketeering of the Top. Men.

        To fight the inflation, Maduro instituted price controls on just about everything, including food. So surprise surprise....there are now food shortages. So what's the response? Go after the "hoarders" and "speculators".

        I've even argued with anti Maduro Venezuelans who think the shortages are from speculators. They just think Maduro is either hoarding for himself and his buddies or that he's not dealing effectively with the speculators.

  9. Has a red line been crossed?

    Let me get this straight:

    - Obama HATES the klepto-Marxists in power in Ukraine
    - Obama LOVES the klepto-Marxists in power in Venezuela
    - Obama HATES the klepto-Marxists in power in Syria
    - Obama LOVES the klepto-Marxists in power in Saudi Arabia

    Seems like the U.S. foreign policy is "We'll support you as long as you are part of the oil cartel because we love price gouging as long as the government does it."

    1. This is unfair to President Obama. He simply asks the Magic 8-Ball what to do prior to each foreign policy statement or action, then does what it tells him to do. Seemingly random, but actually not!

      1. I thought he had Lurch spin the Magic 8-Ball, just by staring at it.

        1. The mechanics of his three-dimensional chess are unimportant, really. All you can do is despair and fail to appreciate his logic.

          1. Yeah, I know, his wisdom is far above the comprehension of us lowly serfs. Pretty much every no talent lefty political wonk writer have already informed us of as much.

      2. Hence airstrikes on Libya, but not on Bahrain?

        1. Do you question the wisdom of the Magic 8-Ball?

          1. I question EVERYTHING...

        2. I think you are confusing the Democrat foreign policy with the Republican foreign policy.

          Libya keeps waffling on whether or not they want to work with or against OPEC. Either way, bombing Libya keeps prices up. As long as Venezuela's government ruins their oil production we will support them; if someone in Venezuela threatens to open up oil production we will probably start bombing.

          1. I always assumed they hit Gaddhafi because he was vulnerable, it cost relatively little, and they were tired of him. Nobody cared about Bahrain because it was small, and because the Saudis own it.

        3. Woah there buddy slow your role, the Anti-government protest in Bahrain was nothing like Libya I was there for both and Libyan military was executing civilians trying to flee and even trying to sink the boats fleeing country for Italy killing hundreds of civilians we couldn't save. Bahrain was just 2 sides of civilians clashing in the streets and the police were just there actually keeping the peace and not executing anyone pro- or anti government. Naval intervention in Libya was to secure passage to Sicily and Italy for the refugees fleeing and being murdered by their psychotic despot. Every try a rescue swimming operation in artillery fire? please consider sawing your hands off before you type anything else retarded.

          1. I'm not saying they were the same in scale, but that in principle they weren't that different, the obama response was inconsistent. the response to most of the arab protests has been to cheer them on and assume they're good. Getting rid of Gaddhafi was fine, but silence on Bahrain because they belong to the Saudis more or less. i'd be interested to hear more about what you saw there, since the media almost completely ignores Bahrain.

      3. He simply asks the Magic 8-Ball what to do

        So it is cocaine that is messing up our foreign policy?

        1. Must be why they stopped counter narcotics operations in 4th fleet

    2. if there's a pattern it seems to be, "whatever Russia wants, screw that."

  10. But I thought Hugo Chavez cured poverty in his country with his bold anti poverty agenda, which is why a disturbingly high number of progressive have such a positive view of him.

    1. Venezuela was already going straight to hell when Chavez was still in control. It's just that his fight with cancer and the mystique of everyone imagining that the Koch Bros, Bush, and the CIA gave him cancer, kept people distracted for a while.

      Obviously, the magical bus driving Saddam Hussein of the Americas just can't match the charisma and cult of personality of a dying Chavez.

      1. Gosh, too bad we can't have oppression like that here. What's wrong with us?

        1. We're working on it comrade, patience, patience...

    2. He really did decrease income inequality, he just did so by making the country poorer.

      You really have to marvel at just how incompetent/corrupt their government must be to have fucked up their economy so bad despite the oil resources Venezuela has.

      1. Reminds me of the comment about how if the Communists controlled the desert there would be a shortage of sand.

      2. he just did so by making the country poorer

        Isn't that the way that achieving equality through social justice always works?

      3. Grand Moff Serious Man|2.20.14 @ 6:26PM|#
        "He really did decrease income inequality, he just did so by making the country poorer."

        Where do you think Obo found the inspiration?

      4. You really have to marvel at just how incompetent/corrupt their government must be to have fucked up their economy so bad despite the oil resources Venezuela has.

        It's a well known phenomenon -- a resource-rich country that allows thugs to finance their oppression while keeping taxes under control -- until the power goes to the Dear Leader's head and he goes off the deep end.

    3. Hugo Chavez cured poverty in his country

      For his friends, yes. You just misunderstand the scope of his agenda.

  11. Does anyone want to check what Lew and Justin are saying about Ukraine and Venezuela?

    1. Well, there's this bit of nonsense from one of the guys who runs Ron Paul's foreign policy think tank:

      what is truly remarkable are the many similarities between what has been happening in Syria and what is now happening in Ukraine. It almost seems as if the same hand with the same playbook is plotting both regime change operations?

      In Ukraine, President Yanukovich granted amnesty to violent protesters, rescinded legislation seen as inhibiting protest, fired his government at the request of the opposition and even offered to name opposition leaders to a new interim government. Each move toward compromise and appeasement of the opposition was met with increased violence and escalating demands on the part of the rebels, most recently in Ukraine after opposition leaders met with US and EU officials at a security conference in Munich.

      1. Daniel McAdams does not disappoint. I mean he was the guy that said CATO sold out libertarianism by inviting Belarussian dissidents to some conference.

      2. The strangest thing to me about the Ukraine situation is... I was listening to NPR again on the way home. I know, I just can't help myself, damnit. Anyway, the strange thing to me is that the primary motivation of the protesters who were being interviewed, is that they want to join the EU. I really do not understand Europeans, at all. It's like they're from another planet.

        1. If you're in Eastern Europe, you're either the lesser ally of a Western power (traditionally France or Germany), or a Russian client. Given what being a "Russian client" entailed from ~1918-1989, I can't blame the Westernizers for seeing the EU as a lesser evil.

          1. Yeah, I get that. I guess that the concept of 'the only thing we want from you, government, is for you to fuck off and leave us alone' is completely alien to them. Which is why I say I don't understand them. What has government ever brought to them, but more trouble and suffering in the end?

            1. No shit. Besides, I recall the "let's ally with France against our bigger antagonist in Eastern Europe" card didn't work out too well for all concerned last time it was tried...

            2. They do not have the luxury of two oceans isolating them from the neighboring powers.

              If your entire history consists of being overrun by foreign invasions (and at a high cost of lives lost each time), the values are different. Individuals can't successfully resist a flood of armed Mongols or their modern counterparts with Panzers.

              In such situations, it is rational to support even an illiberal government, as long as it isn't too cruel and fulfills the duty of keeping the country independent and capable of defense.

              And people who do not like this mindset have emigrated to the West.

              Do you think that it is accidental that libertarian thoughts are most developed in regions where the geography itself prevents frequent large-scale wars?

              1. But the geography doesn't necessarily do that. Remember the United States had to unite at various stages of its growth. There was a war with Mexico and a Civil War as well as some "unpleasantness" with the original Natives.

                Japan has a geography that prevented large scale wars throughout most of its history and they are pretty far from libertarian. They are super duper progressives though.

                1. Winning helps.

          2. To be fair, the 4th Reich isn't nearly as bad as the previous Reich.


        2. they want to join the EU

          The EU is handing out gobs of money to newly joined countries under the heading of Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund.

          Putin tried to counter this (which was in the future, anyway) with (practically) instant cash.

          1. "The EU is handing out gobs of money to newly joined countries under the heading of Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund."

            In "Postwar", Judt details the handouts; they are amazingly generous and you pretty much qualify if you don't fart in silk undies.

      3. Ron Paul's foreign policy think tank klown Kollege

        Everything about the Ron Paul "Institute" for Foreign Policy Derpery is vindication to those who shat on RP's foreign policy stance the hardest. The WSJ editorial board is basically vindicated in that regard. I'd say I'm vindicated but even I am shocked at the Derpery unleashed here. RP long ago stopped being an asset and started being a liability to the liberty movement.

        1. Yeah advocating a foreign policy of money saving and wealth creation is a liability to the liberty movement /sarcasm

          Fuck Syria and Ukraine. America first.

          1.'s the exceedingly rare anti-strawman. Replacing one ridiculous but real argument someone is making and being attacked for with a non-ridiculous argument they are not making at all.

  12. Oh worry not the "US is behind the attempt to over throw the wise and caring man of the people Maduro" crowd is out in full force ready to tie these things to evil oil companies and the CIA, Illuminati and the Free Masons. The useful idiots are back from the 50's and 60's. No doubt well educated by the useful idiots of the era. Sure these people think Stalin was just an agrarian reformer.

  13. Is Western Media Ignoring a Violent Political Crackdown in Venezuela?

    Yes. Unless they're making excuses for it.

  14. I look at both Venezuela and Ukraine and it makes me want to cry. Both places are fantastically beautiful, loaded with potential, and with simple, free market policies and hard work they would both be fabulously rich and dominate their regions.

    Sometimes pondering the vast oceans of human potential pissed away by envy, greed and thuggery just boggle my mind.

    1. We should have avoided the Middle East altogether and made our mission the liberation of Communist hellholes. Nice beaches, beautiful women, killing Communists, freeing people -- what's not to like?

      Would have made for nicer TDYs, at any rate.

    2. As long as they look to government as their savior, then I am afraid that the suffering will continue.

    3. Suthenboy, that's the most eloquent sentence I've ever read that has "pissed away" in it.

      1. It's the juxtaposition of oceans and pissing.

    4. Sometimes pondering the vast oceans of human potential pissed away by envy, greed and thuggery just boggle my mind.


      What's a few (or a few million) dead people when some people have more than others?

  15. In Brazil, the media is incredibly, how can i say, benevolent. That's my opinion, of course.

    1. Which media? The only one I ever see is Globo and I still have a hard time understanding their exact angle on things. My Portuguese is coming along, but I have a long way to go. My understanding is that their local media can be extremely corrupt. Are you Brazilian?

  16. I love the politician weasel phrase "legitimate grievances". What are some of the illegitimate grievances?

    1. In the mind of a politician "Legitimate grievances" are those held against somebody other than his wonderful self, and which don't interfere with his policies, or make him look like a pillock.

    2. I'll give you an illegitimate grievance example. "I'm going to Georgetown Law School and nobody is paying for my birth control".

      1. As opposed to: "I live in a country with the largest proven oil reserves in the world and I can't get my kid's medicine because THERE ISN'T ANY!!! Nobody in this benevolent country who told me there was free health care for everyone will even answer my questions about it. And when I protest, they shoot at me." THAT'S a legitimate grievance.

  17. This time its gonna work, we promise.

  18. Yes ignoring it because its not news that communists are being communists and murdering people that dont 100% agree that all their rights are derived from government superior protector of the same, its kinda what they do and have been doing for the century of their hate and greed driven existence. shitty yes but not news

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