Editor: I have just returned to Barbados from a four-day visit to Venezuela. My elder daughter — noted Barbadian dancer and choreographer Aisha Commissiong — accompanied me and we stayed at the Melia Hotel in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela.
This last trip to Venezuela was my fourth visit over the past 13 months. And even though our stay was relatively short, we were still able to get a general picture of the political and social condition of the country and to make a comparison with the image of Venezuela that the powerful Western news media is so determinedly and comprehensively foisting upon the people of the world.
It is against this background that I would like to publicly deprecate the fact that — unlike me — no major Caribbean media house has found it possible to have any of their journalists make even one single fact-finding visit to Venezuela over the past four years !
Venezuela — it should be noted — is a mere one hourâs airplane flight from most Eastern Caribbean nations, if one is taking the shortest direct route. And if one is taking the Caribbean Airlines flight to Caracas via Trinidad and Tobago, one is talking about a mere two and a half hour flight time.
Why then wonât such major Caribbean media houses as Barbadosâ Nation, Advocate and Barbados Today newspapers,â Jamaicaâs Observer and Gleaner newspapers, Trinidadâs Express and Guardian newspapers, Guyanaâs Kaieteurâ and Stabroek Newspapers, St Vincentâs Searchlight and Vincentian newspapers, and St Lucia News Online simply send a journalist and a camera-person to Venezuela to see and assess the political and social conditions for themselves, rather than supinely relying on biased Western news agencies for their warped, propagandistic reporting on Venezuela ?
Way back in the month of April 2014, I issued a public challenge to Ms Vivien Ann Gittens, the then chief executive officer of the Nation newspaper of Barbados to send a journalistic team to Venezuela, and she refused to take up my challenge.
Subsequent to that, I spoke to the Nationâs current editor-in-chief, Mr Eric Smith, and renewed my request for a Nation journalist and camera-person to go to Venezuela. Needless to say, he also rejected the request.
I made these requests extremely secure in the knowledge that any team of Caribbean journalists who go to Venezuela would come back with a story that is fundamentally at odds with the propagandistic reporting of CNN, Fox News, BBC, MSNBC, Reuters, Associated Press and all the other Western media conglomerates that have been enlisted in a campaign of âPsychological Warfareâ against the Socialist Government of President Nicolas Maduro and his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
And although I am not a journalist, please permit me to say for the record that I did not witness any violence on the streets of Caracas, nor did I observe any starving people eating out of garbage cans or surviving by hunting cats and dogs ! So much for the ridiculous, sensationalist Western media reporting on Venezuela !
In fact, the situation that we experienced at the street level in Caracas was one of unremarkable normalcy.
Actually, the biggest controversial âtalking-pointâ was related to the Venezuelan currency — the âbolivarâ — which has been under attack by the
formidable financial power of the US Government and financial establishment, leading to it sinking to a ludicrous exchange ratio with the US dollar.
This has led the Maduro government to respond by creating Venezuelaâs own version of the âbitcoinâ — a new so-called âcrypto currencyâ, known as the âPetroâ. Hopefully, this innovation will bring some greater stability to the financial and currency situation in the country.
Of course, the currency situation, along with the trade and other sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the USA and other Western nations, and the machinations of the local Venezuelan commercial bourgeoisie have combined to produce shortages of some consumer items within Venezuela.
And this, in turn, has led to some of the Venezuelan people — one third of whom were actually born in neighbouring Colombia or have direct family ties in Colombia — to travel back and forth across Venezuelaâs border with Colombia to either shop in Colombia or to work for temporary periods (thereby earning currency with higher purchasing power), before returning to their permanent homes in Venezuela. This migrant phenomenon has been propagandistically portrayed as a ârefugee crisisâ by the Western media.
Aside from that ferment on the border with Colombia, Venezuela is quite normal and peaceful at the moment. After several months of Opposition orchestrated street-level violence last year — including the actual dousing with gasoline and setting fire to 29 human beings –President Maduro was able
to bring peace to the country by invoking powers contained in the national Constitution to
hold elections for and to establish a 545-member people-based âNational Constituent Assemblyâ.
The elitist and fascist Opposition forces played their proverbial âlast cardâ when they engaged in large scale orchestrated violence and intimidation to thwart the National Constituent Assembly elections, but came up against the might of over eight million Venezuelan citizens who were determined to cast their votes and thereby send a message that they had had enough of mindless, destructive, Opposition orchestrated violence, and wanted peace instead.
Unfortunately, none of this would be known to the vast majority of the Caribbean people, since all they would have heard from the biased news reports carried by our Caribbean media houses is that President Maduro is a violent dictator and that the Opposition forces in Venezuela engage in peaceful civilian demonstrations.
Actually, the very opposite is the case, but the Caribbean people will never get to know this reality, unless their journalists actually go to Venezuela and see for themselves !
In just over two months time — on the 20th of May to be precise — the Venezuelan people will be going to the polls in a presidential election that will pit president Maduro against former state governor Henry Falcon of the Progressive Advance Party, Reinaldo Quijada of the Unidad Politica Popular (UPP), and three independent candidates — Javier Bertucci, Francisco Visconti Osorio, and Luis Alejandro Ratti.
My plea to the media houses of the Caribbean is to go — go to Venezuela, go and observe the lead-up to the elections and the elections themselves — and report back to the Caribbean people what you see and experience yourself.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a member state of our community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and a sister nation of our Caribbean civilization. Why then should we be depending on Northâ American and European media corporations to tell us about our own brothers and sisters? No ! Go and see the truth for yourself !
Coordinator â Caribbean Peace Movement