November 30, 2007

[Feedback] The Referendum

The following is from a feedback card I submitted to CBC News on-line detailing my disappointment with their latest coverage on Venezuela. Included here is a picture of the opposition rally, which, to be fair, was quite large.

As the referendum on proposed democratic reforms approaches, it is more important than ever to get accurate information on the situation in Venezuela. Yet recently the CBC’s portrayals of the "yes" and "no" campaigns seem to be slightly biased in favor of the latter.

I am surprised that Connie Watson's correspondence in the last few days...[click link below to expand to full post] has not mentioned the recently leaked CIA memo detailing plans to destabilize Venezuela and to propagate an image of an overwhelming majority for the "NO" campaign. Instead, the CBC’s information seems to be in line with the large corporate media networks there - which are being funded by the United States.

As established Latin American analyst James Petras has explained, the CIA has spent millions of dollars in the last month trying to coerce Venezuelans into voting against the Chavez government, and on projecting an image of a massive, unstoppable, freedom-loving "NO" campaign. On the CBC news this morning, yesterday’s "No" demonstration was portrayed as a heroic nascent student movement that is going to save Venezuela's last vestiges of democracy.

But why did we hear relatively little from the other side of the coin which argues that the proposed reforms are a means to further democratize the country by redistributing wealth? There is so much emphasis on Chavez’s so-called “power grab”, and yet he is merely trying to legislate the exact same type of powers that our Canadian government enacted here decades ago(unlimited election terms based on the popular vote and extended executive powers in the case of a national emergency)! We’re not being told the whole story.

Ms Watson's report on Venezuela today, for example, implies that current food shortages in Venezuela are indicative of the government’s unsound economic planning, but there are other reporters who have shown that FEDECAMARAS, the elite big business food and wholesale producers consortium, is trying to intimate the public into voting “no” by “creating artificial shortages of basic food items” (see

All this to say I can appreciate the difficulty faced by the CBC in portraying both sides of an extremely divisive issue, but that is all the more reason to try harder to tell it as fairly as possible – which means not forgetting to mention the masses upon masses of Venezuelans who support Chavez and see his vision as offering real hope for positive change in their country.

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