A war of messages
by George Alleyne
Media control was the primary concern of a Barbadian Friends of Venezuela panel discussion, challenging the truthfulness of disturbing international reports of events in the South American country.
Moderator David Commisiong stated that his group organised the event at the Radisson Aquatica to take on the most powerful hemispheric media organisation in the Americas, Inter American Press Association, that is meeting at the nearby Hilton.
“We have sent a very powerful message by what we did here today [Saturday], and we are sending a message from Barbados to the entire world…that the progressive, right thinking people of not only Barbados, but the Caribbean, stand shoulder to shoulder with the Government and people of the Bolavarian Republic of Venezuela,” Commisiong said as the meeting ended.
For most of three hours, prominent Barbadians joined other Caribbean and Venezuelan nationals in condemnation of IAPA as an organisation controlled by American conglomerates with a right wing agenda that includes toppling the socialist government of Venezuela.
St Lucian UWI Cave Hill lecturer, Dr Tennyson Joseph; Barbadians, cultural ambassador, Gabby; and Member of Parliament, Trevor Prescod were joined by Venezuelans, TV presenter, Erika Ortega; novelist, Luis Britto; journalist and university professor, Roberto Hernandez; and university professor of journalism, Roberto Malaver.
The audience included Venezuelan and Cuban ambassadors to Barbados, Jose Gomez Febres and Lissette Barbara Perez
respectively. Also there were General Secretary of the Clement Payne Movement, Bobby Clarke, along with consular representatives from Brazil and Argentina.
They focused on an underlying theme of IAPA being a principal force in disseminating propaganda about Venezuela in a collaborative effort with large media houses across the globe, for return of control of the country’s oil resources to North America and Western Europe, through the removal of President Nicholas Maduro.
“Everything that has occurred in the last 130 years in my country has to do with oil. The reason is that under our soil we have the largest reserves of oil in the world,” Ortega said in part of a prolonged presentation in which she spoke about fictitious reports on Venezuela being distributed to media worldwide from Miami.
Britto described IAPA as, “an association of owners of the communications media.” Charging these proprietors are dedicated to smearing the Venezuelan government’s image, he said, “They have committed themselves to producing at least one page per day in their newspapers about Venezuela.”
This outlook, he said has been adopted by large television stations and news agency services across the globe.
As an example Britto pointed to the impression outside of Venezuela that the country is embroiled in violent conflict, but, “In Venezuela there are 435 municipalities, only in 19 of those municipalities have there been in disturbances, and they are being controlled by opposition mayors”.
This was consistent with an earlier presentation by Barbados’ Cultural Ambassador, Gabby, who some two weeks ago returned from a trip to Venezuela.
“When I went to Venezuela and I saw the vast majority of Caracas, nothing to do with unrest,” he said, and added, “The best way I can put this is there was some big fight in Flatbush in Brooklyn[New York], and somebody reported that the United States is having a riot… To Barbadians, it would be like if we had a big fight in Crab Hill and they say Barbados is rioting. It’s not the truth.”
Gabby continued, “The truth is that vast majority of Venezuelan people, whether they in Caracas, or any other part of Venezuela are moving, they’re working and other things”.