Abby Martin goes on the deadly front lines of the anti government protests in Venezuela and follows the evolution of a typical guarimba—or opposition barricade.
She explains what the targets from the opposition reveal about the nature of the movement and breaks down the reality of the death toll that has rocked the nation since the unrest began, and how a lynch mob campaign came after her and the Empire Files team for reporting these facts.
Hearing from peaceful opposition marchers, to Chavistas to violent protesters at the guarimbas, this must-watch episode exposes the dark reality on-the-ground that is completely obscured from Western media.
Abby Martin Meets the Venezuelan Opposition
Venezuela has been painted as a failed state by both politicians and corporate media for years. With three months of intense protests in the country, this propaganda has only increased, with much of it romanticized and celebrated by U.S. mass media. To get an accurate glimpse of the situation and hear from Venezuelans engaged in and affected by these protests and the current political climate, Abby Martin spent three weeks on the ground in Venezuela.
Since Chavez was elected in 1998, the United States has paid over $50 million to the opposition movement, with Marco Rubio recently proposing an additional $20 million in aid to “defend human rights.” Donald Trump has referred to the current situation in Venezuela as a “very very horrible problem.” With millions of dollars in aid from the U.S., protesters in the streets calling for the ousting of their democratically elected president and the opinions of Venezuelans in the barrios being ignored, who are the players in this game and which, if any, narrative can be trusted?
Mass media is filled with images of violent protests, large crowds and data on deaths caused by government forces in Venezuela. To get to the bottom of this complicated political puzzle, Abby met with both protesters and the opposition forces responsible for violent confrontations. A common theme being that Venezuelans are living under an oppressive dictatorship- crying out for assistance from the U.S. and demanding a fair election.
As the sun sets on city streets packed with largely peaceful protesters donning yellow, blue and red, the scene quickly becomes more tense and volatile. In Caracas, the opposition sets up strategic roadblocks to interrupt the functioning of the area, burning wood and trash in the streets, using vehicles to block and shutdown highways and instigating violence with security forces. In fact, the opposition repeatedly pushes as far as they can until security forces are forced to respond. While the media shares a picture of a Venezuela in which free speech and protesting comes at a cost and is not widely accepted, there were no arrests the night Abby followed the guarimbas. Could this mean that there is, in fact, a right to protest in Venezuela?
Surprisingly, low income Venezuelans residing in the country’s barrios, are not the ones protesting their government and their stories and their opinions are rarely shared. It was in these places where Abby encountered many Chavistas, eager to dispel the opposition’s narrative that Venezuela is a dictatorship in which Venezuelans are oppressed, struggling and living in fear. Also, the protesting is not countrywide– the most volatile protests are taking place in the upper and middle class states, far from the barrios.
While in Venezuela Abby uncovered a shocking truth surrounding statistics being pushed by the corporate media. In a period of three months, 95 deaths and over one thousand injuries were attributed to the violent protests. Abby worked to unpack these numbers and investigate the real causes of these deaths.
Of those 95 deaths, 11 were of unknown cause. According to the Attorney General only 23 of those deaths can be attributed to state security forces. Assuming that number is correct, what can the additional 61 deaths be attributed to? Abby’s investigation, detailed in this episode, concludes that 23 of the 95 deaths from that three month period can be attributed to state forces while the other 61 can be linked to the opposition– including violent murders and the hindering of access to lifesaving services.
Because Abby questioned these statistics and reported her findings, opposition spokespeople quickly created a campaign of false hysteria surrounding her trip, her research and her career. A wave of social media propaganda claimed that Abby and Empire Files producer, Mike Prysner, were not, in fact, journalists but were contracted by the state to gather sensitive intel– taking photos for police rather than interviewing protestors in the streets. This campaign resulted in a virtual lynch mob, culminating in protestors gathering at an event where Mike was scheduled to speak, after publicly sharing the event’s location.
As Abby has clearly documented, the tumultuous situation in Venezuela is just that. It is not cut and dry– there are multiple players on multiple sides utilizing the streets, social media and corporate media to further their narratives in an effort to reach an end goal without much compromise or cohesion when it seems that may be what is needed most.
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WATCH // YouTube.com/EmpireFiles