Reading on Chávez and the history of Venezuela can be found at:
Even though we have not yet reached the moment in the evolution of the blog in which I can refer to previous posts that explain the historical and social context of the existing situation, I would like nonetheless to devote three or four posts to Venezuela, inasmuch as during the past week the country has emerged as a focus of attention by the media.
Here in Cuba we have access to news that is presented from the perspective of the South, and we are spared the distorted information and images that are disseminated throughout the world by the giant corporations of the news industry. In Cuba, the right of the people to know is respected. The right to know is not understood in Cuba as it is in the consumer societies of the capitalist world-economy, where there is “breaking news” of an act of violence, even before police authorities have had a chance to sort it out; where there is instantaneous coverage of the break-out of conflict somewhere in the world, with virtually no analysis of the historical and social roots of the conflict; and where there are accusations of scandalous behavior in relation to a public figure, without the slightest regard for the right of privacy or the right of due process. In Cuba, the right to know is understood as the right to education with respect to all forms of knowledge: natural science, social science, literature, and the arts. In accordance with a collective commitment to the right to know in this sense, the mass media functions to contribute to the political, scientific and cultural formation of the people. In Cuba, you will not find instantaneous television coverage of violence, conflict, or scandal, occurring in Cuba or anywhere else. You will find daily discussion programs in which informed journalists and scholars interpret international and national reality and events, seeking to understand them in historical and global context. As a result, much as I found, as a young university student in the late 1960s at Penn State, that the discourses of my professors and the books assigned by them were educational, liberating me from false assumptions that were part of US culture; so in these recent years of my life, I find Cuban television, newspapers, and books (available to all at nominal cost) to be liberating, freeing us the people from the false assumptions and beliefs that pervade the ideologies and the mass media of the world-system.
Some say that in Cuba there is not liberty of the press, because the major media outlets are not privately owned. Indeed, most are state-operated, managed by professionals appointed by government entities, and thus they are not independent of government. But this confuses the issue of freedom of the press with the issue of property rights. There are limits to the right of property, imposed for the common good, even under capitalism. Under socialism, it is believed that the channels of communication, information and the dissemination of knowledge should not become private property, because they are the common possession and heritage of all. The structures for their dissemination and transmission should not be shaped by particular interests. They should be regulated and controlled by entities established by delegates of the people, elected through structures of popular power.
A free and autonomous press is one that is free from distortions in understanding, the origin of which is often found in the particular interests of the powerful. A truly free press is one that can exercise in practice its right to educate the people, even in opposition to the interests of the global elite. Thus freedom of the press is integrally tied to the right of the people to education, which includes the right to understand the social forces that shape the development of the political economy of the world-system.
What are we learning these days through the mass media in Cuba about Venezuela? We are learning that what is occurring is an attempted coup d’état, orchestrated by the national and international extreme right. The attempt has involved the financing of violent gangs, accompanied by an international media campaign to distort events and to present an image of chaos and violence, in order to justify an armed intervention. In addition, we are learning that this campaign is being waged against Venezuela because it has significant petroleum reserves, and because its government does not submit to the mandates of the global powers.
We will explore further the situation in Venezuela and the role of the media in subsequent posts.
Key words: Third World, revolution, colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, democracy, national liberation, sovereignty, self-determination, socialism, Marxism, Leninism, Cuba, Latin America, world-system, world-economy, development, underdevelopment, colonial, neocolonial, blog Third World perspective, Venezuela, freedom of the press