Playa El Tirano, Venezuela

The U.S. reaction to events in Venezuela has been highly partisan.

The government of President Nicolás Maduro is depicted as losing popular support and purportedly relying on repression to stay in power. Meanwhile, in Mexico—where, according to a recent study, thirteen Mexicans disappear every day, and President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has violently repressed public protests—Washington and the U.S. media have remained largely silent.

The recent killing of a student in Venezuela, for which a policeman has been arrested by authorities, drew an immediate response from the State Department and criticism from Secretary of State John Kerry. Later that week, however, the murder of a teacher by government forces in Acapulco, Mexico, during a protest by educators received virtually no attention.

During protests in March of last year in Venezuela, when forty-three people were killed on both sides of the political spectrum, including police officers and military personnel, the United States asked the Organization of American States for an investigation and Hollywood movie stars condemned the government for allegedly violating humans rights. In Mexico, where the government is responsible for the forced disappearance of forty students in the state of Guerrero, Washington has remained largely silent. Except for the statement of director Alejandro González Iñárritu (who is actually Mexican) at the Oscars, U.S. artists have yet to express their concerns over events in that nation. 

Since Hugo Chávez was first elected in 1998, the American media has continually depicted Venezuela as a country in crisis, or worse, an authoritarian government moving toward a dictatorship. In contrast, Mexico, where elections are often fraudulent and which faces a real humanitarian crisis, gets a free pass from Washington and the mainstream media, with the blame for the violence being typically placed on the drug cartels.

Most U.S. reporting seldom acknowledges the fundamental political and social changes that have occurred in Venezuela in the past sixteen years or the empowerment of millions of people. This political reality continues to provide the current government an important base of support.

Instead, the U.S. coverage of Venezuela typically focuses on the lack of toilet paper and condoms as a way to ridicule the country and mock its political leaders. In Mexico, where a large portion of the population lives in poverty, and millions of poor and rural people lack access to food or basic services, such deplorable conditions go unnoticed.

And despite a history of coups and efforts at destabilization supported by the United States in Venezuela, the U.S. media insists that the Maduro government is paranoid and sees conspiracies where they don’t exist.  

The contrasting coverage of problems in Venezuela and Mexico tells us less about these two countries and more about the biases of the U.S. government and major media in this country. 

 

 

Miguel Tinker Salas is a professor of history and Latin American studies at Pomona College in Claremont, California, and the author and editor of a number of books on Latin America. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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Comments

Umm im American of Mexican decent. My grandpa was poor in Mexico Guererro which is one of Mexicos poorest states. He told me that poor people even if its half the population are still happy. I see pictures of him and my other causins vacationing. He has a really nice house and a dog. This story tells a different point of view because overall they might have financial difficulties they still happy and probably the happiest in North America and Latin America and with corruption, and crime that is what it brings them down. I Cant wait to go to Mexico and see my causins and aunts. Viva Mexico!!!
It also tells us about the natures of the governments of Mexico and Venezuela. Mexico allows relative freedom of expression, Venezuela does not. There have been many incidents during protests with enough evidence to point to criminal actions by protesters. Venezuela keeps blaming the U.S. for the protests, Mexico keeps blaming the country's problems.
That's funny. I see US news articles all the time about the missing 43 students in Mexico and Peña Nieto's various scandals. And Maduro losing popular support is not a depiction, it's a demonstrable fact. Opinion polls show him with 22% support. Does the US Government play favorites when it comes to human rights abuses? Of course, just like Venezuela is quick to condemn the US and Israel while turning a blind eye to Iran and the Assad regime. That's politics.
there´s not relative freedom of expression in my country, there is a complete one. Nor country in the world allows violence during protest, neither ithe bolivarian republic of Venezuela. 18 victories in 19 different kinds of election shows the world who has people´s support.
Good point Mr Salas. But the article is short. You should have said more. This is much more sinister, with serioius consequences for citizens in Mexico and Venezuela, that this short treatment suggests. You could have talked about the forces, including the usual democracy promotion actors, working feverishly to prop up strong man leaders and weaken those who show solidarity with their own people. Yes, Others have told that story. But you stepped up to tell it too and pulled your punches.
Professor Tinker Salas' article albeit short has captured the essential political and ideological biases of the current as well as previous American governments towards Venezuela as well as other countries in Latin America such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and off-course Cuba that initiated the revolutionary break from imperial domination. Professor Salas' article correctly identifies a few instances of US biases as it relates to the loss of lives in Mexico, a US satellite state as opposed to Venezuela, a state that has been embarking on fundamental changes within the socio-economic and socio-political structures to improve the lives of ordinary and poor Venezuelans. So, a student unfortunately is killed by a security officer in Venezuela and though his killer, the cop is arrested, the US government and media paints Maduro and his government as despots and totalitarians. However, later in the same week, an educator is killed by Mexican security forces and that death is ignored. The politics is very clear. If you accept and follow the status quo and US orders and imperial dictates, you are a democracy and you defend freedom. However, if you challenge the status quo and pursue real freedom for the majority of your people as a country, you are dictators and totalitarians. There is nothing new here. The history of struggles of all peoples for change and real independence from imperialism and other forms of oppressive systems is and will always be fraught with these bourgeois biases. As such, our struggles for independence and sovereignty of our peoples should never dismay. We should redouble our resolve to keep fighting the battles to end misery, poverty, shantytowns and underdevelopment of our peoples that are attributable to imperialist and capitalist domination in our countries. Finally, we should always remember the words of Archbishop Romero, a conservative archbishop from El Salvador who was shot and killed while saying mass by the US trained military in that country. The Archbishop once said; "When I fed the poor, they called me a saint. However, when I asked; why are they poor? They called me a communist." Think about it, if the guardians of wealth, power and imperialism called a conservative archbishop "a communist" for only asking why people are poor? Is it any surprise why they are so ruthless and criminal towards freedom fighters like Chavez, Maduro, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and others who actually change the structures and institutions that keep people poor and oppressed? The struggle continues! Peace!
I believe the point that Dr. Salas is trying to communicate to his audience is that 43 human beings disappeared in a supposed democracy and to follow up on your point huge allegations of corruption for the first family yet Mexico is not declared to be an "unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security" of the US by President Obama. By the way, disappearances and thousands killed by drug gangs and the military in Mexico are not seen as a cause for " security concerns" for the US though 43 people murdered by the political opposition in Venezuela about half of whom are government supporters and security forces targeted. by the opposition is basis for the president of the US to prohibit eight officials of the state in Venezuela from traveling to the US and to freeze their assets in the US for violating the human rights of the demonstrators. Additionally,Venezuela is declared an "........extraordinary threat to the national security" of the US. It is very unusual that you cannot see the double standard that Dr. Salas is highlighting in US policy. As it relates to the popularity of president Maduro as measured by polls, the political popularity of presidents including the US presidents oscillate periodically and so a given poll may have his popularity at 22% so what? To then make your leap to the conclusion that Maduro uses force because he is less popular is an assertion not a fact. Unfortunately, for your conclusion an assertion is not a fact in the absence of evidence. The violence that Venezuela has been experiencing lately is largely the result of the political opposition that has been targeting public infrastructure and security forces for destruction and death. That is not an assertion. That's a fact! Finally, there is no evidence that Maduro and his government "turn a blind eye" to Iran and Syria. A simple element of diplomacy is that because Venezuela has diplomatic relations with those two countries does not mean that it agrees with everything it does. However, diplomacy requires that differences can be worked out without war and behind doors. After all, Venezuela has diplomatic relationship with the US bit it clearly does not agree with US foreign policy towards it as well as towards Iraq, Iran and the Palestians to name a few. Peace!
You obviously haven't seen FOXNEWS, every moment they can they criticize everything Mexican.

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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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