In Venezuela, one journalist wrote, ‘the game changed’

February 21, 2014
Category: Uncategorized
Caracas, Venezuela on Thursday, Feb. 20. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

AP | BBC | The Huffington Post | Caracas Chronicles | CPJ

Journalist Francisco Toro wrote Thursday about what’s changed in Venezuelan protests, and media coverage of those changes, for Caracas Chronicles, a blog he started.

Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.

What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.

Toro details those changes in events that began Feb. 12 with student protests against the government. He also writes about the lack of media coverage of those changes.

What we saw were not “street clashes”, what we saw is a state-hatched offensive to suppress and terrorize its opponents.

After the major crackdown on the streets of major (and minor) Venezuelan cities last night, I expected some kind of response in the major international news outlets this morning.

He found nothing, Toro wrote. But some of the media seems to have caught up.

On Thursday afternoon, Michael Solis wrote for The Huffington Post about the unrest in Venezuela and the role the Internet and expats are playing in breaking through media blackouts.

Given the national blackout on information, people like Haydee (Izaguirre) are trying to fill in the gaps with truth, even if that means doing so halfway across the world. Haydee started by creating a website and a Facebook page called SOS Venezuela on Valentine’s Day. The page went viral immediately, acquiring over 138,000 followers in just five days. Haydee uses the page primarily as a way to rally Venezuelans and supporters of freedom inside and outside of Venezuela.

On Friday morning, the Associated Press’ Frank Bajak wrote from Peru about the Internet blackouts in Venezuela.

Some believe Venezuela’s information war, which escalated last week as the government blocked images on Twitter after violence in Caracas claimed three lives, is only just beginning. The protesters are fed up with a catalog of woes that include rampant inflation, food shortages and one of the world’s highest murder rates.

That crackdown may extend to foreign media reporting in the country, as well. On Thursday night, the BBC reported that CNN could be expelled from the country for coverage of the protests.

“Enough war propaganda, I won’t accept war propaganda against Venezuela. If they don’t rectify themselves, out of Venezuela, CNN, out,” (President Nicolas Maduro) said.

A spokeswoman for the US network, only available on cable in Venezuela, told the BBC it did not have any immediate comments about Mr Maduro’s comments.

Last week, the government removed Colombian TV news channel NTN24 from channels offered by Venezuelan cable operators.

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote on Thursday about violence and harassment facing journalists working in Venezuela.

“While it is crucial that both pro-government and opposition groups respect the right of the press to report on the protests in the country, authorities have a responsibility to ensure that journalists can do their jobs safely,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Media blackouts, arrests, and a campaign of harassment against dissenting voices has become a hallmark of this administration.”


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