Still unable to convince a sufficient number of their countryfolk to support them, the Venezuelan opposition has turned their efforts towards convincing an international audience – primarily Americans – to support their cause. Part of that is spending inordinate amounts of time online, arguing in English on social media, creating bot networks, and editing Wikipedia articles. Many Wikipedia articles on Venezuela are particularly biased towards the opposition, containing numerous inaccuracies, falsehoods and non-sequiturs.
Now, according to The Grayzone, a group of right-wing Venezuelans has managed to ban the use of a range of alternative media outlets that do not comport with their views. These include MintPress (already blackballed by Wikipedia), The Grayzone, and the much-lauded independent news site Venezuelanalysis, the most extensive English-language resource on the country available. One user in particular, ZiaLater, a member of a group called “Project Venezuela” who control and moderate content related to the country, was the catalyst for the banning of the sites taking an anti-imperialist stance. Some members of Project Venezuela spend long hours changing Venezuela-related pages so they are more critical of the government and sympathetic to the opposition.
Policing the narrative
Wikipedia suggests using corporate-funded mainstream sources who they feel are “generally reliable.” However, on Venezuela, these same outlets closely resemble and parrot U.S. regime change propaganda. For example, CNN, the BBC, and the Daily Telegraph all reported the blatant falsehood that the Venezuelan government burned aid trucks trying to enter the country last year. In reality, it was the opposition themselves that burned their own trucks, as immediately reported by The Grayzone, MintPress News, and other outlets who were actually there. Multiple well-circulated live streams also showed the event in real-time. However, that was all ignored. The New York Times, a site recommended by Wikipedia for citation, currently employs a journalist covering Venezuela who openly admitted to me on tape that he considers himself a “mercenary” and deliberately plants outrageously exaggerated stories into Western media to push his goals. Other journalists told me that their colleagues consider it their number one mission to overthrow the Maduro government.
In 2017, The Washington Post published an article openly calling for a violent coup in the country, and currently employs a Venezuelan journalist who resigned from The New York Times, saying, “Too much of my lifestyle is bound up with opposition activism” that he “can’t possibly be neutral.” Meanwhile, The Guardian described Oscar Perez, a local ex-soldier who hijacked a helicopter and used it to bomb parliament buildings as a “patriot,” and even pushing the debunked conspiracy theory that Perez was a “government plant.” They have not retracted it, nor apologized. This is just a minor sampling of the opposition propaganda disguised as objective reporting pumped out constantly by corporate media.
Read more: Project Venezuela: Right-Wing Activists Push Wikipedia to Blacklist MintPress, other Alternative Media