SIBCI's Syria


Boys walk along a damaged street filled with debris in Deir al-ZorA popular, patriotic government, supported by a near unanimity of the international community, besieged on all sides by blood thirsty terrorists, facing imperial aggression. A blameless government scrambling to protect its people from islamist aggression, its soldiers slaughtered without provocation, its streets car-bombed, its people gassed by terrorist forces now backed by the greatest imperial army the world has ever known.

This is the Syrian conflict as you’d know it if, like millions of Venezuelans, your only source of information about it was Venezuelan state media.

SIBCI’s coverage of the Syrian conflict amounts to journalistic malpractice on a grand scale: aggressively partisan, unabashedly propagandistic, and meticulously scrubbed of any information that could imaginably reflect badly on the Assad regime.

The Syrian Air Force does not target civilian areas for bombing. Syrian militias do not terrorize and massacre dissident neighbourhoods. Two million Syrian refugees have not fled to neighbouring countries to escape regime violence. As far as people who rely on SIBCI know, these things just never happened.

And, needless to say, it’s the terrorists who indiscriminately murder people using poison gas.

What I find most disturbing is the state media conglomerate’s flat refusal to cover even major elements of the story “straight”. This piece, for instance, is how SIBCI’s audience first found out the Ghouta poison gas attack really took place. It segues directly from an MSF report confirming the story to this jewel:

No es la primera vez que los grupos terroristas en Siria utilizan armas químicas en contra de las fuerzas de seguridad del país árabe, pues pretenden presentar al Gobierno de Damasco como autor de tales ataques químicos, adecuando así el camino al Occidente encabezado por Washington para una posible intervención en el país árabe.

No obstante, tales esfuerzos han fracasado, pues el Ejército sirio ha conseguido numerosas pruebas que revelan la autoría de los terroristas en el supuesto asalto.

Take a moment to notice what’s happening in that passage. This isn’t about “raising questions” over the allegations of Assad’s responsibility. They’re not out to “teach the controversy”, as it were. What they’re doing is reporting Assad propaganda as plain fact.

The Syria on show on Canal 8 is a place where opposition is always presumed treacherous and no step taken to repress it is ever excessive. Where the regime’s line is acritically assumed to be true, and opposing viewpoints are presented only in the most skeletal terms – if at all – before being vehemently rejected. (Notice how, in the piece excerpted above, claims of regime responsibility are never actually presented before they’re contradicted.)

The Syrian Civil War makes for an arresting case study of the miseries of Communicational Hegemony. Because, it just so happens, this virulent delegitimation of dissent is a hallmarks of SIBCI’s approach to Maduro’s internal opponents, as well.

It’s in this context of this mendacious, manipulative, heavily redacted rendering of the Syrian tragedy that Nicolás Maduro’s calls for “peace, peace, peace!!!” in Syria need to be seen.

The Syria we find on Venezuelan state media – the only news media, let’s not forget, that millions of Venezuelans have reasonably easy access to these days – is one where the only chance of peace is to empower the Assad regime to smash the rebels out of existence. And that, conveniently enough, turns out to be the Venezuelan government’s policy.

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  1. The extremists had infinitely more reason to use weapons that would invite their benefactors into the conflict, to topple the government which protects religious minorities.

    Assad is fighting as hard as any other government in the world would fight bloodthirsty rebels supported by warmonger states.

      • People outside the Venezuelan communicational hegemony don’t have that excuse. They are just know-nothings, a stance that crosses ideological lines.

        The Maduro regime’s full throated support of Assad, which I don’t think you hear even from Russia, a key source of Assads material support, is a case of like minds thinking alike. Venezuela has no strategic interest in supporting Assad. Chavez just felt a kinship with the guy, and the feeling continues as part of Venezuela’s foreign policy of supporting a freakish international gallery of rogues and monsters.

    • Yoyo, I don’t think Quico is taking sides in the argument of who exactly used chemical weapons. There is the question of motive, which as you says points to the rebels. There is the question of ability, which points to the government. And there is the possibility that it was neither, that it was one of the many outside actors seeking to make the war there into something bigger and worse. But you and I can make these judgments based on information. In most of Venezuela, people are being spoon-fed a one-sided version of affairs by your friends at SIBCI. It’s fine to have a one-sided version of affairs from one medium or another, as long as there is a diverse spectrum so that overall the public gets well informed. That is breaking down in Venezuela. It’s depressing that some of the same people who attack the commercial US media for their hegemony now try to impose the same anti-intellectual framework on another country. Oh but it’s ok because unlike the corporate media, you are telling the “truth,” right?

      • The only perfect media involves no bosses and no payments, and as the BBC demonstrates, public news media can beat the war drums and stampede a country into dismantling its national health service just as effectively as a private channel.

        What we’re looking at here is the imperial agenda versus the anti-imperial agenda. The fake reasons for war versus the real reasons. The propaganda that has convinced you that the rebels are not able to use chemical weapons, versus the reality of recent history:

        • The whole point of enlightenment ideals is to avoid the need for “perfect media.” To get to the truth, we need free speech and a public with strong critical faculties. Rather than defend Venezuela’s growing communicational hegemony, in which you have at times been a paid employee, you instead keep trying to steer the conversation to Syria. Come on, as a smart, well-educated documentarian, you should be able to discuss these issues.

          Do you believe that the public needs to be given only one side of a debate? If so, who should decide which ideas are right? Are pretensions to anti-imperialism all it takes? Does it matter if it’s a right-wing or left-wing anti-imperialism, an anarchist one or just a new empire seeking its own space?

          Or do you believe that the public should receive a wide range of information and make up its own mind as to the truth claims of various sides? If so how do you defend Venezuela’s effort for communicational hegemony?

          • I believe in community media, which is happening in Venezuela, but don’t pretend you’re honestly in favour of a wide range of claims if you turn a blind eye to the communicational hegemony in any other country on the planet.

          • yeah and in venezuela you can have all the media you like, communitary, regional, national… but if your radio, tv or paper present an oppinion contrary to the central goverment sooner or later you’re gonna have to face censorship, economic roadblocks, closure or intervention. not even chavists media is safe from their own hammer

          • What a load of garbage. Opinion is free and available to everyone in Venezuela. Tell me one newspaper or readio station taht has been closed for representing an opposite view to SIBCI?

          • arturo, what country are you living in?, does rctv or cnb ring any bells in your mind?, the sudden change of editorial line of venevision, opposition newspaper’s financial problems due to lack of access to cadivi…… countless others “little” things, it’s all part of the goverment’s media hegemony objective, opinion is absolutely free until you say something that really bothers the goverment, then you are likely to face problems

          • You believe in community media, great. Do you believe that the public can be trusted to make up their own minds or not? If so, communicational hegemony is counterproductive — it just invites backlash. If not, well, enjoy yourself, but don’t claim to be a democrat.

          • It’s such thin cover, this community media fig leaf, in a context where the government never really hides that it’s financial support for any given station is contingent on its political quiescence.

            The lay of the land is clear here – chavismo is divdided between those, like Justin, who don’t think it much matters if the government monopolizes the airwaves to lie to us and those like Yoyo who positively cherish the thought.

          • Every country in the world has a media hegemony. It’s just that established capitalist economies can appear to be liberal when it’s actually the institutional structure of media which limits debate and give a unified voice to power.

            So in the countries you’re living in, Quico and Setty, just like in Venezuela, the only citizens really able to make up their own minds are those with free internet access and a lot of spare time.

          • That’s pretty funny, Yoyo. I recommend you come to visit in the next few days for the anniversary of the Pinochet coup. Chile has a lot of problems, but a low diversity of mass media isn’t one of them.

          • “Two newspaper consortia (El Mercurio and Copesa, which publishes La Tercera) currently own 95 percent of Chilean newspapers”

            “In Chile, you can find one of the most concentrated presses that you can find in the continent,” Benoît Hervieu of RSF’s Americas desk said. “There is a conflict of interest in Chile- media owners are also landowners and industry owners.”

            “To make matters worse, El Mercurio and Copesa receive US$5 million every year in government subsidies, creating conflict of interest between the press and the government as well.”

          • Yoyo,

            I know very little about Chile.

            I checked out El Mercurio now. I see, for instance, this:


            This is coming from a newspaper that represents “the evil capitalism” and “capitalist information hegemony” and stuff like that.
            Do you think we could read an article expressing the opinion of the “ideological” enemy
            in Eva Golinger’s newspaper?

      • The idea that “motive” points to the rebels requires a black-and-white reading of a much more complicated environment. For example; does anyone other than the rebels have a motive for enticing the US into a possibly debilitating war? Or do the Iranian Revolutionary Guard seek a way to undercut the authority of their newly-elected moderate President by radicalizing things in Syria? Many other motives can be suggested which point to Assad and his allies.

        Secondly, the “rebel motive” argument presumes that the US would inevitably act. There is no motive to gas thousands of civilians if the result is that the Western powers reveal they are too politically divided to respond to the next gas attack, when Assad holds the gas.

        • I don’t think Yoyo does get his news from SIBCI. I think he writes comfortably from someplace normal and should (and probably does) know better.

          • Yoyo writes from a very lovely English region close to London, one of the regions competing to be considered the cradle of capitalism.

    • yoyo, how can you be so sure you aren’t the one manipulated, a bit of humility could help to open your mind a little, in the first days of the uprising years ago, people where marching in the streets in a more pacific way, Bashar al-Assad, who have ruled the place for 12 years (his father the 30 years before him), answered their call for reform pretty much with bullets, wouldn’t assad favour perhaps a more speedy end of the war by gassing his opponents specting that no one would believe he did it? (after all he is winning), so he has the motives AND the gas, no one really knows for sure what’s happening.

      I don’t know if the US should get more involved tough, I don’t have any simpathy for the guy but the syrians should get him out themselves. Still, have you noticed sicbi’s contradiction? they are against imperialism and monarchies but support a family who have ruled the country in a dinastic way for 40 years…

    • Assad: “If we use these weapons to clear the rebels out of the suburbs, won’t the US intervene because of civilian casualties?”

      General Haddad: “No Comandante, we will simply assert that the rebels had more reason to do this than we; it will fool the most gullible!”

    • The house of cards that is the one sided SIBCI’s account as is yoyo’s comment falls flat upon logical scrutiny. For example, nowhere is there a call from yoyo to, nor an explanation for Syria’s lack of, taking Syria’s fight to a new special level upon facing chemical weapon actions by the supposed rebels. You see, the opposing view’s gut reaction to thinking that chemical weapons were used by the government is immediately that a line was crossed that justifies a new line of action is missing from what the SIBCI’s account and yoyo’s regurgitation would have us believe is sincere and complete information. So, not only do the Syria government, yoyo, and our own government demonstrate a lack of disgust to the inhumanity in this case, we can deduce that they are knowingly trying to sweep it under the rug.

  2. The point about how these are propagandistic accounts is undoubtedly valid. It’s also true that Americans are often treated to propagandistic accounts. It’s one thing to recognize Assad’s brutality. It’s quite another to oversimplify a conflict in such a way that the only thing we’re supposed to know about it is Assad’s brutality. That’s how it tends to play out in the United States. Neither the Venezuelans nor the Americans way of dividing the world up into their version of the white hats and their version of the black hats is likely to be conducive to peace-making.

    • Actually, brutality on the part of some rebel groups has been very well covered in the US mainstream media. This is one of the reasons Americans are so skeptical of helping the rebels. Just the other day the AP newswire had a story that ran in many local papers about an Al Qaeda/rebel attack on a christian village.

      • It is fundamentally erroneous to suggest that Americans are not often subjected to subtle forms of propaganda on questions such as Syria. Surely the propaganda is not as overt as that of SIBCI, but there’s actually a vast literature that demonstrates the extensive degree to which major U.S. media defer to official narratives in reporting about foreign affairs. In fact, such scholarly literature is squarely situated within the mainstream of the study of media and politics. Until such time as Quico has actually done serious comparative analysis of how U.S. media depict foreign affairs, he ought not be so dismissive of the vast literature pointing to extensive state influence over U.S. media depictions of the political life of foreign peoples.

        The primary reason that there’s skepticism about a Syrian intervention is not that Americans are learning all that much about the rebels but rather that Iraq and Afghanistan have left a poor taste in people’s mouths.

        • The difference between The Venezuelan and the US govts manner of dealing with the news media is DRASTIC and RADICAL .

          In the US the govt may try to INFLUENCE the news , but the news media remains independent , In VENEZUELA the govt policy is to totally control the news content to directly IMPOSE the kind of news which people can hear. In Venezuela there are no TV stations which can carry an oppositon message nor many other kind of other media which if its doesnt toe the governments communicational line is not subject to harrassment and intimidation .

          In the US if you dont like one version of the news because you are a conservative , you have fox news and other news outlets that cater to people with your political opinions , same is your are more liberal than the average . In the US you have a FREE PRESS , whilst in Venezuela you have only a sliver of media allowed to carry largely toned down independent news or oppo opinions largely because they dont reach the regimes core constituency of people who dont read anything but sports or tabloid papers and largely get their news from watching tv or listening to radio.

          Perhaps the US Govts does timidly attempt to influence Independent Opinion and slant its contents in its favour . But in Venezuela the government seeks total direct or indirect control over any news being broadcast in the country so that it either follows the regimes line or keeps mum about its failures and excesses. Some marginal tolerance of news independence is maintained , with strict restrictions , on some media largely for window dressing purposes.

          • “In the US the govt may try to INFLUENCE the news , but the news media remains independent…”

            Much of the research suggests that, on questions of foreign affairs, major U.S. media have limited independence from the American state. Two of the more influential scholars in the study of media and politics –W. Lance Bennett and Steven Livingston– refer to U.S. media as “semi-independent.” Following upon a long line of research about U.S. media depictions of U.S. foreign policy, they conclude that, while there are fits and spurts of journalistic independence at certain junctures, the long-standing and dominant tendency among major U.S. media is to defer to official narratives on questions of foreign affairs. Thus, it remains rather questionable that Americans have access to the quality of information that would be necessary for them to be able to independently evaluate their leaders’ approaches to foreign relations.

          • Jeffry:

            People who have incredibly bad reading comprehension shouldn’t waste our time with their ignorance. Propaganda takes many different forms, some more subtle and some more overt. Nobody is going to argue that SIBCI and the Washington Post propagandize in the same ways, as the latter’s propaganda is undoubtedly more subtle. Nevertheless, those who aspire to be more than crass ideologues should acknowledge that propaganda exists in many forms and in many societies and is not exclusive to state media.

          • Justin, to me it sounds like you are just excusing even greater centralization as is happening in Venezuela by saying “But look over at the US, they have lots of problems too!”

            Well, I think it’s fairly obvious that Quico buys into one line of propaganda on Syria (the White House’s line) and then screams bloody murder about the Venezuelan state’s propaganda with respect to Syria. My point was not that one excuses the other. My point was that neither are conducive to a negotiated solution.

            With respect to “centralization,” there is actually no evidence that the Venezuelan media landscape is any more centralized than that of any other Latin American country. In fact, the Venezuelan opposition clearly has more powerful news organizations at its disposal than any left opposition in the region. Moreover, the Venezuelan opposition is clearly able to present its perspectives in Televen, Venevision and Globovision.

            Would the Venezuelan opposition care to switch places with, say, Mexico’s PRD or Colombia’s Polo Democratico? How many newspapers do Mexico’s PRD or Colombia’s Polo Democratico have at their disposal? I’ll give you the answer. The Polo has zero and the PRD has one in a country of over 100 million people (La Jornada). But somehow I don’t see anyone around here screaming to high heaven about how Mexico and Colombia don’t have a democratic media landscape.

            The bottom line is that the Venezuelan opposition has the tools at its disposal to compete in the “marketplace of ideas.”

          • From reading american media on the Sirian crisis NOW , there is definitely a wealth of information and differing opinions on the air or in the press as cannot exist in a regime which purports to create a system of communicational hegemony . US academics sometimes are cry babies about what their govt does but dont complain enough of what it is like in places like china or cuba or Venezuela where freedom of information and opinion in the media is routinely trottled .
            Come the revolution ( the real one thats surging not the fake one that the regime scenifies) trolls deserve to be given a a dose of the same medicine they want to give independent opinion , but of course true democracies dont allow that !! lucky for them !!

          • Of course propaganda isn’t “exclusive to state media”. That sounds like some sort of potted USA libertarianism to me. No, the distinction is that, in Venezuela, ALL the video media, whether public or private, have a single propaganda line dictated from the President’s office. So the Opposition Presidential candidate, after getting between 48 and 52% of the vote, cannot appear on tv at all,

            Pretending to believe that that is analogous to the situation in the US is absurd.

          • Jeffry House wrote: “No, the distinction is that, in Venezuela, ALL the video media, whether public or private, have a single propaganda line dictated from the President’s office.”

            That’s just false. Have you spent any time in Venezuela? Televen and Venevision have run-of-the-mill news programs (like those of CNN, ABC, CBS, etc.) that present both opposition and government perspectives. Government media still control only a small percentage of audience shares. I haven’t kept up with all the latest about the shift at Globovision, but it would be safe to say that your image of the Venezuelan media landscape is extremely distorted. I don’t doubt at all that state media present plenty of propaganda (as did Globovision), but the notion that the state is all people have to look to for information is just bogus.

          • Justin!!! Those programs you r referring to (Televen, Venevision) are very watered down, like they don’t want government officials get mad with asking too many questions or the wrong questions, just like Obama and Kerry get when asked any question about wtf is that they are after.

          • Justin, to me it sounds like you are just excusing even greater centralization as is happening in Venezuela by saying “But look over at the US, they have lots of problems too!”

            Even worse, your original point was that the US media propagandizes the conflict as the rebels having “white hats,” when this was shown to be demonstrably false you shifted your argument. So you are not even consistent in your attempt to deflect criticism from Venezuela. My question is why do you even feel driven to attempt to deflect criticism from Venezuela?

          • Sorry, I meant to post this response here and without italics. Here goes again.

            NorskeDiv: “Justin, to me it sounds like you are just excusing even greater centralization as is happening in Venezuela by saying ‘But look over at the US, they have lots of problems too!'”

            Well, I think it’s fairly obvious that Quico buys into one line of propaganda on Syria (the White House’s line) and then screams bloody murder about the Venezuelan state’s propaganda with respect to Syria. My point was not that one excuses the other. My point was that neither are conducive to a negotiated solution.

            With respect to “centralization,” there is actually no evidence that the Venezuelan media landscape is any more centralized than that of any other Latin American country. In fact, the Venezuelan opposition clearly has more powerful news organizations at its disposal than any left opposition in the region. Moreover, the Venezuelan opposition is clearly able to present its perspectives in Televen, Venevision and Globovision.

            Would the Venezuelan opposition care to switch places with, say, Mexico’s PRD or Colombia’s Polo Democratico? How many newspapers do Mexico’s PRD or Colombia’s Polo Democratico have at their disposal? I’ll give you the answer. The Polo has zero and the PRD has one in a country of over 100 million people (La Jornada). But somehow I don’t see anyone around here screaming to high heaven about how Mexico and Colombia don’t have a democratic media landscape.

            The bottom line is that the Venezuelan opposition has the tools at its disposal to compete in the “marketplace of ideas.”

        • Of course Americans are subject to propaganda, but we cannot compare. America: 300 million people, big country and regardless the effort of this admin to centralize and pump up big government because of the good intentions of the majority of the people of American who never have lived a war or in communism, who cannot get the perils of big government even though Jefferson stated them long time ago, the country is still waaay much more decentralized than Venezuela my friend. Waaaayyyyy more.

  3. No doubt the regime is brutal. However, there is no doubt that the struggle is more and more about other even more brutal and less secular thugs being financed by third party Sunni’s being groomed to take over. There is also no doubt that for the Caracas administration the whole thing is mainly a propagandist opportunity to soc it to the ” Imperialists “. God knows the regime here in Caracas needs to divert attention from the shambles it is creating on the home front.
    Yet, Just to complement the intensive Syria reporting out of Caracas, here is a link originally provided by Col. Patrick Lang ex-Military intelligence (USA) on his own blog yesterday ( ) .
    As you will note some of the things the regime here n CCS repeats are things that a part of the intelligentsia believes even in the USA (where BTW 80% of the people are opposed or totally unenthusiastic & unconvinced about getting militarily involved on the side of salafist types; again not that this makes the regime a group of alter boys).
    Here is the link to the VIPS’ (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) letter to the President

      • Hegemony in the Gramscian sense? I doubt it. There are real questions about whether state media can be all that effective at brainwashing people, particularly in a context in which people have other information to which they can turn. Even supposing, though, that the Venezuelan state is effectively convincing Chavistas of its version of events in Syria, one has to wonder why that matters all that much. Venezuela is an inconsequential player in the events that are transpiring in Syria. It’s much much more important to think about what kinds of information Americans are receiving, as the American state is the one that’s actually contemplating the use of force.

        • You are right Justin. When a Venezuelan oriented blog is commenting on the state of freedom of the press in the country through the coverage of the conflict in Syria, the most important thing is what the Americans do.
          I really have to handle it to Americans like you Justin, you manage at the same time to criticize and express the disgust your fell at your government, while at the same time making irrelevant anything that happens outside the US, which springs from exactly the same feeling of superiority of people who support Western interventions of non western states.

          • Anyone who lived in China under Mao can tell Justin that state media can be perfectly effective at brainwashing people. Or try telling an Albanian that and you’ll get laughed out of the room. And even if Chavismo hasn’t succeeded in utterly driving out every other source of information yet, the intention to do so is bad enough.

          • “you manage at the same time to criticize and express the disgust your fell at your government, while at the same time making irrelevant anything that happens outside the US”

            Don’t be silly. Russia is a player in Syria. Saudi Arabia is a player in Syria. Israel is a player in Syria (insofar as it appears to provides the U.S. “intelligence”). Venezuela, however, is just not a real player in Syria, regardless of how the Maduro government or the Venezuelan opposition seeks to characterize the issue. There’s no value judgement implicit in the rudimentary recognition of the nature of power relations in the Middle East. Leave your nonsense at the door, please.

          • The point of the original blog post was to elucidate the state of media freedom in Venezuela using the Syrian conflict as a case study, not to discuss the importance of Venezuela in the Syrian conflict. That you consistently attempt to turn into into the latter shows you are simply not comfortable with the former.

          • If the regime is a failure at brainwashing people with their crazy made up stories and falsifications its not for want of trying , its because lots of peoples are not the absolute fools that regimen propangadist think they are . They can use chicanery and force to silence independent or critical voices but they are inept at developing a voice of their own that people will believe in rather than yawn or laugh at. The polls demonstrate this failure , despite all the efforts made to create a regime controlled communicational hegemony . Who really watches State televisions , hear its radios , read their papers , seriously accept the govts contrived excuses for everything thats going wrong ?? According to polls and surveys not very many !! The only way to get believed is to stupidify people already intellectually challenged with comic book stories and cartoonish explanations !! .

        • Even supposing, though, that the Venezuelan state is effectively convincing Chavistas of its version of events in Syria, one has to wonder why that matters all that much.

          And here we get to the nub of the difference between you and me, Justin.

          • Well, nobody has explained here why it really matters all that much. It’s certainly not likely to have much bearing on what happens in the Middle East.

          • Is it that difficult for you to understand this?

            It is NOT about what is happening in Syria (which doesn’t mean we are indifferent to that).
            It is about the shameless way the Venezuelan government is manipulating the Venezuelan people, by creating the most one-sided world view you can see anywhere outside North Korea. And that view puts everything evil on one side, everything bad on Earth is ultimately related to each other and with the opposition to Venezuela’s government.

          • Venezuelans have a lot of alternative sources of information, Kepler. And many obviously don’t believe much of what the state tells them. I just don’t buy the thesis that the state’s Syria coverage is all that important. Venezuelan coverage of Syria has no fathomable policy implications. If Quico wants to talk about the problems of “communicational hegemony,” he should talk about what he finds objectionable in the state’s characterizations of things that really matter to Venezuelans. Talking about Venezuelan media coverage of the Middle East –a region that Venezuela has no real control over– is pretty inconsequential.

          • Justin, I think you are the one who needs to have more contact with Venezuelan reality.
            Or perhaps you should to analysing politics of your country in the USA.

            Can you get concrete about the source of information the average José Pérez gets in Punto Fijo or El Tigre? The 100000 “radios comunales”? Are they dealing about foreign affairs or economics? With what background and depending on what resources?
            Have you analysed the Internet behaviour of Yubisey Pacheco?

            Forget it…really: deberías concentrarte en ser un experto en “ciencias” políticas de tu condado gringo.

          • No, absolutely, I’m agreeing with you. From your point of view, the fact that the Venezuelan government has announced Communicational Hegemony (again, Andres Izarra’s formulation, not mine) as a policy goal and is carrying out a strategy to flat out lie to its people en masse while at the same time rendering it more and more difficult to access alternative points of view doesn’t “really matter all that much” because, deep down, you don’t really care what happens in Venezuela – things “matter” as far as you’re concerned to the extent that they impact events in the U.S., or the Middle East, or somewhere else far far away.

            From my point of view, that the Venezuelan government is busy pushing the propaganda lies of a authoritarian regimes that wantonly bomb, machine gun and poison gas their opponents matters very, very much, because it’s very likely to have all kinds of bearing on what happens in Venezuela (which, if you haven’t noticed, is what this blog is about.)

          • I think you’re leaping, man. I’m sure you’re right that state media coverage in general has important policy implications, but I doubt very seriously that the particular coverage you’re focusing on is of much significance. I would be more interested in what you have to say about the state media’s coverage of economic policy questions or its presentations about the country’s homicide problem.

          • Great, I’ll be sure to send you an email next time to check which instances of the state using the public’s money to lie to the public are of much significance and which aren’t.

          • Perhaps that wouldn’t be a bad idea, Quico. Sometimes the globe-trotters such as yourself need a bit of a reality check about what kinds of debates actually matter in their own national context.

        • Venezuela plays with Iran big time, they basically can come to the country as their wish and normal citizens have often noticed irregularities that they cannot explain, like planes coming from Iran with no people in it (what are they carrying?) so I won’t say that Venezuela is not a player. Just like it was in WWII not supplying troops but oil, important.

          I mentioned Iran because if you have some knowledge of what is happening in Syria will take you straight to Iran. Just sayin’

          • so I won’t say that Venezuela is not a player.

            It’s funny how the opposition inadvertently buys into the rhetoric of Chavismo, to the point that some folks actually start believing that, because Chavista leaders talk a lot about the Middle East, Venezuela is actually a significant player there. Think about it. What possible effect could Venezuela have on how events play out in Syria?

            Chavez aligned with governments that are in conflict with the United States because that’s the natural thing for a challenger to U.S. hegemony to do. Whether we like it or not, the enemy of your enemy is usually your “friend” in international relations. That’s been as true for the United States as it has been for Venezuela in the era of Chavismo. However, just because Chavez perceived it to be in Venezuela’s interest to form counter-balancing alliances with Iran and Syria does not mean that Venezuela has the capacity to be a significant player in the Middle East.

          • “… because Chavista leaders talk a lot about the Middle East, Venezuela is actually a significant player there”

            No no no no I didn’t say “significant” that’s of course the Chavista version, remember Chavez was a poster case of narcissistic personality disorder and he actually believed that the world rotated around his actions. I also said that they are “big time” involved with Iran, not that they could play a “big time” role in this war. However, Venezuela can play a role.

            “What possible effect could Venezuela have on how events play out in Syria?”

            Diverting funds, hiding rogue elements in Venezuelan soil…… might not be a turn of events but might be of some significance in a way. Those countries need idiots like the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to front/hide money and other. So following the trail, the question to ask is not why Chavez was interested in Iran or Syria, as you well stated, the enemy of my enemy is my friend (arab proberb btw) but what’s the interest of Iran (who is playing a major role in what’s happening in Syria), in Venezuela. That’s the mmmmm part.

  4. I wager few ordinary people in Venezuela spend much time thinking about far away Siria and its tragedies , the Govt might give its defense of the sirian govt big display in the media it controls and some govt people and supporters might make a bit of indignantly righteous noise about it , but fundamentally its the kind of subject which doesnt register very deeply in the Venezuelans collective psyche. Maduro is really making a lot of empty theatrical gestures before a mirror which he thinks all the world is intent on following but which is largely ignored , both by the world and his local audience . Maybe just another failed attempt to try and distract attention from the real issues that strike venezuelans day to day lives , climbing prices , empty shelves , rising crime , whole sale collapse of infrastructure and public services , and the stench of public corruption reeking all over the place. The regime is in danger of shutting itself up in a self contained bubble where its made up propaganda items substitute for the real world they inhabit . The wolf is at the door , baying and howling and they think that what matters is the little pet kitten they have on their laps !!

  5. I’m afraid Mr Yoyo might be as well part of the paid self-called “Communicational Guerilla” government mantain as permanent employees. As it is been noted here Propaganda is the most important concern from this rogue regime.

  6. Francisco is right in spotlighting that the excercise of comunicational hegemony by the govt is in itself a transgression of all journalistic values and we might add, of the civil rights of all Venezuelans . Hegemony is wrong because it is based on the premise that only one kind of news and one kind of journalistic expression is to be allowed regardless of the wide spectrum of interests , opinions and views that venezuelan society might harbour . Its the state telling people , we will decide what news you shall see , what opinions you may hear expressed , because it is we and not you who know best what you should know and what you should think . Come down to it , its downright insulting to our dignity as men !! Makes anyone’s blood boil !!

    Im not certain that the imposition of such hegemony will be as effective in moulding public opinion as the regime thinks , there will be those who will be offended at being treated like mindless children , many others who are naturally skeptic of any official news as self serving and full of skewed misinformation. The use of the hegemony is often crude, boorish and unappealing , more likely to arouse doubt than conviction . Of course there a lot of dumb people in any society and some will take their cue from the official news . But anyone who has half a mind will treat the govt controlled news as suspect or laughable .

    • I did notice a recent poll showing the vast majority of Venezuelans do not buy the notion that the opposition or its ‘gringo masters’ is to blame for the blackouts. On a topic that Venezuelans actually all care about, the regime’s propaganda blitz may be working against it. So it may be that topics like the Middle East in state media are just fodder for a small, ideological paranoiac base.

  7. This blinded support to the Syrian regime is probably, in my opinion, one of the Venezuelan government’s biggest mistakes internationally ever since the Chavistas got in power. However one element which should not be ignored is the role of the important Syrian diaspora in Venezuela (half a million people). It seems that the majority are supporting the regime.

    But it should also be pointed out that the Syrian conflict is blurring out a lot of the old alliances and power relations in and over the middle east of the last ten year.
    Against a western attack are: the Egyptian “Pinochets who recently did the coup, the Enahda government in Tunisia, Iran, the Hezbollah, US Neocons,
    For a western attack: The western governments, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Al Qaeda, Israel, Jordan, Lybia.

    As for the piece on journalism, if it is definitely true that the Venezuelan government and it’s bureaucracy are trying to control the quasi-totality of the media, it just does not produce “hegemony” in the Gramscian sense. Venezuelans are some of the most politically aware people in the region and are aware that what is being told to them in this or that media is the a “version”, at least from what I have seen. Compare this now to ….. say Peru, where there is no such a thing as a national “opposition” media anywhere and where, unlike Venezuela, the idea that what journalists present is just a version instead of being the “Truth” isn’t as widespread. And let’s not even talk about western countries now, especially when the middle east is concerned which is much worst, given the west two centuries old history of interventions and colonialism in this part of the world.

    This brigs us to a big problem with many opponents to chavismo is that – even if they are right in a lot of their criticism – the sociall alternatives that they offer are generally the dominant western ones, or eventually to follow what is done in other centrist/rightist latin-American countries.

    The subject here being the right to inform and be informed as well as to be presented with different worldviews: the situation in both the rest of Latin America and the West is not that much better than in Venezuela. This is not a compliment to the Venezuelan government…. it just tells us how bad the situation is in the west and latam.

    • Sorry but I think that there is an important distinction to be made between the inaccuracy, biases, sloppiness of journalism everywhere and a country where the government spent millions of public monies to spread a version of events that has absolutely no grounds o connections to the truth. Are sometimes the report of the NYT or WOPA not accurate or have factual mistakes or a editorial choice has been made to present a fact something that is no clear? Perhaps. But that doesn’t begin to compare with the looney toons version of reality that SINCI is promoting.

      • The importance of “doxa” in western or usual conservative latam journalism is much more than just a question of “inaccuracy, bias and sloppiness”…
        “Doxa” is the things that are never being questioned, what everybody in the field shares a tacit or unconscious agreement about. For example as far as western journalism covering the middle east that every political actors branded “islamist” are by nature bad and those branded “secular” are by nature good. Another example is how in 2001 the war in Afghanistan received unanimous support from the “free press” in all of the west.
        Closer to Venezuela, I’d like to see how people in say, Peru or Colombia are being given a more pluralistic range of world views in the media than in Venezuela.
        This is worth mentioning because, AT BEST, this is the only alternative that the Venezuelan opposition oppose to chavismo: an imitation of what is being done in the west or in the conservative latam countries…

        All of these things are much more effective at “manufacturing consent” (for lack of a better expression, this is by no means a reference to Chomsky…) than good old government pressure. However, mentioning and avoiding them implies that journalists be self-critical and reflexive, something many of them are just too arrogant and self absorbed to do….

        • Let me get this straight: your example for how the consent to war against a secular regime on behalf of an islamist opposition is manufactured is to note how “as far as western journalism covering the middle east that every political actors branded “islamist” are by nature bad and those branded “secular” are by nature good” – de pinga!

          • “We were never at war with Eurasia.”

            Not for nothing, but the stupidity of Venezuelan governmental authoritarianism and the reality of wider mechanisms of authoritarianism aren’t mutually exclusive.

            I think Ash’s point about the opposition’s alternative speaks to the same as does the fact that the Arab spring had a primitive-religious backbone: as much as retrograde authoritarianism sucks, global hegemony in the sense of “it is our duty to save the Syrians from their government” as a journalistic line is really kind of scary enough to make one go “well…”

            In the end you’re right, but I think it is important to remember that beating the chavista regime isn’t the only political challenge in front of us.

          • “…it is important to remember that beating the Chavista regime isnt the only political challenge in front of us ”
            This last is an important point , For the opposition its not just about rescuing now kidnaped institutions to a restored democracy , but also about effectively addressing the huge problems which the country faces as a result of 14 years of gross guvernamental mismanagement and corruption ( which entail big sacrifices from everyone) while retaining the popular support needed to make the institutional change a long term lasting political achievement . Its a hurdle race with three succesive obstacles to be overcome , all involving a great deal of difficulty !!
            The notion that just by restoring democratic rule and rule of law and institutional responsability all problems will by themselves solve themselves cannot be believed , a yet huge challenge faces it once the first task is achieved..

          • You’re more of an optimist than me, I think the country would have been building up huge problems for the last 14 years anyway. The fact that Chávez made it a lot worse is sort of like when an addict thinks life can be better just quitting the drug, and then realizes that the drug itself was cover for something else.

            Is the establishment of law and order really our only concern beyond Chávez? His management was the only thing that was wrong with our State and we can just nudge it back on track?

            Nation-states are obsolete, it is silly to ask one’s self “what is Caracas before Venezuela” instead of “what is Caracas before global society.” Nobody cares about our righteous libertarianismo bolivar-santo, we gotta pay like everybody else, and we gotta get oppressed for it like everybody else too unless we understand what it is we are being opressed for and how.

            There is an obviously good point to the fact that, of all the genocidal governments in the world, all media everywhere only seems to know and care about Syria.

        • I think that for the sake of you are argument you are simplifying and making stereotypes about the coverage of western media of the wars of Iraq with statements such as “every political actors branded “islamist” are by nature bad and those branded “secular” are by nature good” That statement is precisely the kind of generalization and simplification that you are trying to mock with your comment,

  8. the sicbi is an election winning machine, they would take absolutely any subject whatsoever and twisted in a way in wich it would favour the chavist point of view, syria is just another case

  9. I dont mind the regime having the means of putting forth its own delusional or farsical view of things using media in its control .They could be just another version of what Fox News is to radical conservatives in the US . Whats really intolerable is their pretense at shutting down or silencing all dissenting voices , at forcibly suppressing any news, opinion or information that might be unfavourable to their view of themselves

    The other bothersome thing is the way they make no attempt to analytically or conceptually reason or argue their views , but instead phocus entirely on the gross distortion and manipulation of information, the escenification of pompous shows of self glorification and in the malicious destruction of the dignity and reputation of anyone opposing them.

    Theirs is a machine for the production of lies and fantasies (most of them blatant) with the intent of debasing any truth appearing in the theatre of public discourse .

  10. Even accepting that the SIBCI news is biased this does not mean that the public is not misled in other countries by CNN, BBC. FOX, Bloomberg and other international media. The war drums are still banging on these channels as they did for Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

    Ironically what Quico complains about is exactly what the private media did in the media coup and the oil strike in 2002 . 2003. No complaints from him at that time. He supported the destabilization being from a privileged clique with impeccable democratic credentials.

    It’s good that he believes taht the Venezuelan government has a Communicational Hegemony when nothing is furtehr from the truth. Just a hopeless, misinformed opinión.

    Kepler – 100000 community radio stations??? Do you know how many there actually are in Venezuela? I will give you a clue – it is fewer than 1000 and far fewer than private FM stations.Please inform us or you look like a propagandictic igoramnus with no facts to back up your arguments.

    You see Quico, you have a very short memory. Many people recall the outright lies spread by the Bush administration so as to créate a pretext to attack the countries mentioned above and that is why the Communicational Hegemony of the news multinationals is not moving public opinion to start yet another war in the Middle East to make the ecxisting civil war even worse.

    Thank God for Putin at this juncture even though he has blood on his hands from Chechnya.

    This will end as a diplomatic and media defeat for the US, Israel, Saudi as well as France.

    • Arturo,
      You Chavistas have really no capacity to recognise satire.
      The 1000000 number was making fun of the stupid statements that “it’s not all the government but there are a zillion (don’t take zillion literally) media outlets out there, most independent, private and possible critical of Chavismo. It’s bullshit.
      The average Venezuela cannot find much critical media outside the Panamericana…not surprisingly, the opposition is firmly controlling populations around the Panamericana (broadly speaking, you wally!)

    • So, it is more important to you right now to trash Quico for what he didn’t say than SIBCI for what it is saying?

      And still nothing about actions against those guilty of chemical weapons use?

      And you subtly divert attention from the slow squelching of dissident voices by claiming that the government voices are still small compared to private voices, as if market share in any way justified the stifling of freedom of expression.

      Putin? Really? The ex head of KGB merits a “Thank God”? Have you no sense of ridicule.

      • I loved the: “Thank God for Putin AT THIS JUNCTURE even though he has blood on his hands from Chechnya.” I love that line.

        Yeah, we’ll give Putin a pass on Chechnya….at least Putin is standing up for privacy rights and free speech with Snowden. Yeah. Well, even when he is not, but thank God for Putin anyway at this juncture. He puts into perspective the ridiculousness of certain moral equivalencies. Yeah, the NYTimes is the soviet era Pravda of capitalism. Its all dictated by Control.

        Right here, on the thank god for the Internet, is where your anarchists meet your bomb shelter building, Sarah Palin listening libertarians. Thank god for that point of agreement.

  11. The regime blasts so called oligarchs for presumably wanting to have all the power to themselves and yet they follow a policy which is identical to that of those oligarchs because they cant stand the possibiliy that a well informed electorate will turn against them and vote them out of office : the hegemony of oligarchs is wrong while the hegemony of the regime is to be celebrated !! congruity is definitely not one of their strong points . !! if we had a Putin as head of govt they would get a dose of their own medicine !! but of course then the hegemony would be intolerable . what hypocrites !!

    • Reminds me of that line attributed to some gringo about Some Central American dictator, ‘he’s a s.o.b., but he’s our s.o.b.’

  12. I am really surprised at reading this Justin guy.
    He is a native English speaker. He is actually a teacher (professor?) in Political Science at university level (thus: it’s not Kindergarten).
    Francisco’s English is excellent. He explained clearly what the issue here was (NOT SYRIA).
    Justin didn’t get it. Francisco explained in the comments. Justin didn’t get it. Several of us explained again in the comments in different ways. Justin kept repeating the same message he had at the start.
    What is it? Is it something in the brain that determines how a Chavismo supporter tries to deal with abstraction? (anything beyond “wanna pee”, “hungry, hungry”, “there woman, there woman”)
    Is it something about the way they think they can detect something is a cause or not of something else? Is there some neurological issue with reasoning?
    Are the fallacies used by the likes of Justin just bad faith and trying to manipulate? But manipulate whom?
    Is it then just trolling?

    • Kepler,

      Perhaps you could answer that question by understanding ” The Nature of Beliefs”.There is quite a bit of good information out there in any library that might shed some light on this subject .

      It is useless to argue with people’s strong beliefs and very intelligent people can believe all manner of what looks like absurdities to others who think quite differently.ALL of us tend to have blind spots where our beliefs have taken hold.

      Emotions are partly the reason for this.

      If it were easy for us humans to have a handle on objective reality, things would be so simple, but the truth is’ objectivity’ is a rarity among our daily musings.I think the best we can hope for most of the time is a willingness to consider the other, and keep an open mind.Most who come to this blog have a strong mind set and are not willing to really dialogue with others who are in the opposite camp, hence the useless threads of repetitive misunderstandings that go on and on .

      We have to follow our hearts and minds, without worrying so much about changing others.They will change themselves if, and when the time comes for them to do so.

  13. Oh, Justin gets it. It’s sophistry, of course, but he can rationalize anything so as to favor the side he has chosen. See, first you choose “the proletariat”, then you defend whoever claims to represent the proletariat, no matter what they do. This is a well-oiled slide on which Justin’s predecessors justified the gulag as being very like the US prison system, and had multiple reasons why the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was not imperialism, etc.

    In this thread, he justifies one party dictatorship over the television news media in Venezuela because it’s supposedly similar to what happens in the US. Of course, this must be presented in gaseous generalities, “in the Gramscian sense”.

    It’s when we get to particulars that the screeching falsity becomes plainest. Today, for example, PBS has a one half hour interview with Bashir Al Assad. The US government wants to bomb him, the sooner the better. But he gets to appear directly on US tv to make his case. Since Venezuelan state tv doesn’t even allow opposition Presidential candidate to appear, this single example–many others could be chosen– shows the vapidity of Justin’s argument.

    People like Justin eventually come around, if the experience of the 20th century is any guide. But, as Keynes said–not of Justin’s victims though–in the long run, we are all dead.

    • PBS, a publicly funded network gives Al Ashad space. In Venezuela all the public networks are used to shamelessly promote the government.

  14. I wonder why the Syrian govt would want to stockpile chemical weapons , is it just to have around ? a matter of patriotic prestige perhaps ? could it ever have crossed their minds that they might need it to supress a mass rebelion ?? Is this the kind of regime that would ever carry out the murder and massacre of civilian innocents to intimidate its enemies ?? or maybe they did it because they wanted to use it against an invading israel army , but wait is the use of chemical weapons allowed by international law ? .All these questions have an answer, a common sense answer , one which springs to the mind straightway without faltering , of course my mind strays , this is not a relevant topic , sorry for posting it .

    • I think the Syrians who push agreements to stockpile wmd coming from Iran, iraq, Russia and what not are as Syrians as the Cubans who are infiltrated in the Venezuelan government. Like their motivations have nothing to do about the goodwill of Syria.

  15. The communicational policy of this regime is to methodically lie and falsify , to decieve , to savagely and gratuitously denigrate its adversaries , to put up cartoonish racy spectacles to distract public attention from the now flagrant failures and abuses of its performance . Because they are so shoddy and unconvincing in their use of the media they control , because the disattisfaction is growing relentlessly as people’s lives are directly affected by its failures they feel they cant afford to have a free tv media , free radio media , a totally free press to do its job and inform what is happening , so they need to create mechanisms whereby they can silence that media , control its reporting and messages , because they know they cannot counter it with facts and good results.or convincing arguements , so they have no other choice but to institute a policy of commucational hegemony which is another way of referring to a policy that mutes and supresses all actual or potential critical voices , so govt lies and deceits stand some chance of being believed because there is no obejctive information in the news . Of course they have to contend with the fact that every time people need to repair their cars , or go to the market , or try to find medicines for their health problems , or get a passport, or resort to candles because the power is gone they are vividly reminded of the govts failure. Thats the hidden media , the media of everyday life events that shouts the regimes corruption and mismanagement , the media that can never be silenced !!

  16. Justin sez;

    ‘With respect to “centralization,” there is actually no evidence that the Venezuelan media landscape is any more centralized than that of any other Latin American country. In fact, the Venezuelan opposition clearly has more powerful news organizations at its disposal than any left opposition in the region. Moreover, the Venezuelan opposition is clearly able to present its perspectives in Televen, Venevision and Globovision.”

    Televen and Venevision are watered down, the “opposition” views are harmless and controlled.

    Globovision was bought by a Chavez sympathizer and a big majority of their journalist quit because of the new board of directors was giving them a line of what they were suppose to say so as you can imagine Justin, if somebody ask you to write a paper, and tells you what is it that you should say in it you won’t consider it to do it right?

  17. Does the Obama regime really think putting Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood in charge of Syria will make it more peaceful? The territory controlled by these foreign “rebels” are being ethnically cleansed. Murder, forced conversions, mass rape… no “red line” for those. Most of these “rebel” groups are being funded by Saudi Arabia and other countries. The US needs to stay out.

    • Govts sometimes face situations where there are no good and bad options but only two really bad options . Moreover situations which are shrouded by a cloud of uncertainty so that they cant really know which option is least bad !! where “you’re damned if you do and your re damned in you dont . !!. the utilitarian decision is probably to let it go , forget about the massacre of innocent civilians , there is nothing to be gained and a lot to be lost if intervention is made . On the other hand if you assumme always an utilitarian decision then a regime may decide to incurr in the most despicable and monstrous crimes against its people and by doing nothing you send the message that it doesnt matter . Its like an incentive for those perverse regimes to do whatever they want because there will never be any adverse consequences . thats also an awful position.
      What I understand is that the obama govt is doing is taking action which hurts the Syrian regime but not enough that it will topple it , so that the war goes on , the regime keeps fighting but at least next time it will think twice before ordering the mass massacre of its
      own innocent population . Its not the clear cut action that we in the west like , but it sends the right message while not causing a total game change in the oingoing csyrian civil war .

  18. There’s a video of one syrian rebel opening a dead soldier chest with a knife, taking his heart out and biting it.

    I’d try diplomacy first before just going there and bomb if you ask me. We shouldn’t support sarin gas criminals but neither organ eater psychos.

    • I don’t think the proposal is to support the rebels, but to act against the authority that used gas on its citizens. Remember that citizens crossing a line are dealt with by the national authorities, but national authorities crossing a line must be dealt with from outside when its nation’s citizens cannot.


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