Friday, 7 August 2009


Prestigious business magazine The Economist has been forced to back-down, after publishing false claims from Bolivia’s right-wing opposition. “Venezuelan troops helped quell a rebellion centred on the airport at Santa Cruz in the east in 2007”, the magazine asserted on July 18. Twelve days later, they were forced to admit that their “evidence”, a video clip from an opposition TV station in Bolivia, did “not prove Venezuelan troops played an active role in quelling the rebellion.” Santa Cruz is in eastern Bolivia, centre of that country’s natural gas industry. Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, was elected promising to stop privatisation of the gas industry and use resources to empower Bolivia’s poor and indigenous majority. Since then, his Movement to Socialism government has faced a violent and racist campaign from the wealthy, white elite. Realising tat Morales has the support of most Bolivians, the elite now hope to break Santa Cruz and its gas off from the rest of the country. The case highlights the hostility the socialist governments of Bolivia and Venezuela face in the mainstream media, both internationally and at home. See Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (UK) for the full story. Two recent articles from look at efforts to combat this problem through promoting grassroots media. ‘Community media: The thriving voice of the Venezuelan people’, by Liz Migliorelli and Caitlin McNulty, argues that “In Venezuela today a grassroots movement of community and alternative media is challenging the domination of private commercial media.” This is a long article, but well worth reading for it’s in-depth look at the development of community media, and the interaction (and conflict) between the grassroots activists and the government. A second, shorter article ‘Venezuela: “The democratisation of the mass media has begun”’ by Kiraz Janicke, reports on the recent controversial closure of “32 privately owned radio stations and two regional television stations,” and the handing over of their frequencies to community stations. All three articles were drawn to my attention by Links, International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

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