Chávez sacrifices TeleSur in Libya for Gaddafi

Why is Chávez squandering his most valuable asset to defend Gaddafi? Could it be that he is beholden to the old dictator and terrorist-supporter? Is there a missed story here? Was it Gaddafi who financed Chávez, and has he perhaps also financed FARC? Many questions, but let’s start with the observable facts.

As Libya has been in full uprising, media have not been allowed in. Except for TeleSur from Venezuela, that is. The satellite-TV 24/7 “news” channel sent a reporter who reported from Tripoli that “all is calm”. His version of events has precisely so much to to with reality as the infamous press conferences by Saddam’s minister of information.

While a pro-Chávez site like Narco News tries to explain this away, as having nothing to do with the political leadership, and nothing to do with the poor “journalists” in TeleSur, it defies credibility that all is the fault of some anonymous “middle management”. Even more incredulous is the suggestion that the reason the management has not been able to correct this error in reporting is that the head of TeleSur doesn’t have enough time for the network, since he is also the minister of information(!).

Hang on, doesn’t that raise any red flag to Narco News? This is a major story: Hugo Chávez’s information minister is the head of the multi-national TV “news” network that is forming the way western media reports about most events in Latin America. If that is not a Ministry of Propaganda, I don’t know what is. Let me just take one example. When the president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was arrested by the military on an order from the Supreme Court, a decision backed up by all institutions of the state, it was none other than TeleSur who chose to label it a “military coup”.

It was also TeleSur who sent the vast majority of reports from the unfolding events in Honduras after June 28th. As I have blogged about extensively, they staged events, they chased away other journalists to avoid having witnesses to the fake media stories, and they cooperated with Hugo Chávez and Manuel Zelaya in doing this. For the European and North American media to have swallowed their story-line was a major propaganda victory for them. An even bigger victory it was that they managed to make a large part of the Honduran population believe in their spin (even among the majority who agree that it was correct to depose Zelaya there are many who believe it was a military coup).

It was, again, TeleSur who pumped out the false story that the protests against Correa in Ecuador was an attempted coup d’état, as exposed – again – by Narco News, still a Chávez-supporting site mind you. In this case they blamed the spin on Eva Golinger, an American lawyer who has become deeply involved in the propaganda apparatus of the Chávez regime.

TeleSur has thus been a huge success for Chávez as a propaganda tool. With the help of it, he has managed to control the news not just in Latin America, but in the case of Honduras in the whole world. In every single country in the entire world – including a substantial part of Honduras itself! That would be amazing for a news outlet, but even more so for what now has been nakedly de-masked as a pure propaganda outlet for the regime.

However, their reporting from Tripoli has been received rolling on the floor laughing, even in Caracas. The entire credibility of TeleSur is down the drain, and I doubt very much that any, and I say any, even their ally al Jazeera, would touch their stories again.

So why did Chávez, and his “information” minister Izarra, sacrifice this priceless asset? He is basically throwing in the towel on trying to export his “21st Century Socialism” to other countries, because without an overwhelming propaganda campaign, it just can’t be done. So what was so valuable?

There are some options to consider. Maybe he was concerned that the oil prize would skyrocket if Gaddafi fell. It would hurt Venezuela, because Chávez has sold oil contracts beyond what he can deliver, for a price that is below today’s market price, so he has to purchase the difference on the spot market. Thus, the higher the oil price, the more Venezuela loses.

Or maybe he is afraid of the Arab virus jumping the Atlantic. There is a growing resistance against him in Venezuela (#OperacionLibertad; another one just showed up on the Internet with the aim of deposing Castro on Cuba). The TeleSur spin could be aimed at discrediting his home-grown opposition, which has whole-heartedly supported the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and of course Libya.

But there is also that third explanation, the most scary one: That it actually was Gaddafi who secretly backed Chávez so he could come to power in an election, when his coup d’état in 1992 failed. It is no secret that Chávez and Gaddafi are pals. It is no secret that their respective foreign departments have remained in close contact through this crisis (it has openly been declared in Caracas). And now this blatant lying from TeleSur, under the direct control of Chávez’s own minister of propaganda, I mean “information”. What is it they say about the one that talks like a chicken, walks like a chicken, looks like a chicken?

Analysis of Egypt

Yesterday Mubarak promised to not run in the September elections, thus creating the chance for an orderly transition to democracy, with time for election campaigning and such things that are necessary. Unfortunately ElBaradei went out in public and rejected that offer. It was a mistake of huge proportions.

The alternatives for Egypt are (1) continued dictatorship under Mubarak, (2) a new dictatorship probably of the Islam extremist kind, and (3) democracy. It seems the military are in favor of alternative 3. However, they realize that if the dice are thrown up in the air now, they may well land on alternative 2 instead. Every statesman in the world realizes that. Does ElBaradei know something outsiders don’t, or did he commit a big political blunder?

Because of ElBaradei, at least to a significant extent, people stayed on the streets. Today the thug crackdown on the demonstrators started. It is the same method used by Chávez to great effect; send in civilian-dressed security personnel to use violence against the demonstrators anonymously. We must assume that they are police in civilian clothes. When Chávez did that in April 2002 he forgot to tell all the uniformed personnel, so some of them ended up shooting and killing some of the thugs, for which they are now serving 30 years in jail (they are thus the first political prisoners of Venezuela of the present dictatorship).

The military in Egypt surely know this. If they defend the civilians and leave Mubarak in power, they go to jail. They would thus have to depose Mubarak in order to defend the civilians. But if they do that, they also know, from Honduras 2009, that they will be called “golpistas” and not recognized by the global community. It was a dragon-seed for the UNGA to label the deposing of Zelaya a coup d’État, as I wrote in February 2010 and again in May 2010.

The US and the EU should immediately lift the phone, call the military in Egypt and tell them, “we promise to recognize the interim government, as long as it is civilian and free elections are held before the end of the year, even if Mubarak is removed by the military, provided that you stop the bloodbath in Cairo.” The precedent from Honduras has to be undone before it causes more damage.