This photo of three Bolivarian National Guard soldiers was actually taken by AFP photographer Juan Barreto on November 19 of last year, while they were on duty guarding Miraflores Palace from the roof. This is a perfectly normal part of their job, and it’s hardly limited to Venezuela. The White House also has guards stationed on its roof at all times. But to hear a certain famously dimwitted US senator tell it, these three were somehow transmuted into undercover snipers in Táchira, far to the west of the capital, during the opposition riots this spring. And that’s just one of a whole pack of lies:
Um, Marco? You’d have to be a truly special kind of fool to believe that, because if they were undercover snipers, (a) you wouldn’t be able to see them at all onaccounta they’d be hiding, and (b) they wouldn’t be wearing a National Guard armband in plain sight, either.
And that’s not all the stoopid, either. Here’s a detailed list of the things Marco got so dreadfully wrong:
Marco Rubio, Republican senator for Florida, asked the US Congress on Thursday to sanction the government of Nicolás Maduro, alleging that in Venezuela there is repression and violation of human rights, in another attempt to damage the sovereignty of the land of Bolívar as hegemonic strategy of the US. CNN showed him saying “We are being threatened from our own backyard” and “What good is the OAS to us?” The video shows him proposing that the US not put any more taxpayer money toward the financing of the inter-American organism which, it seems, now does little to serve imperial interests.
Iguana TV took apart one by one the manipulations with which this senator tried to back up his arguments on two opportunities. Many of his phrases are part of the template which the far-right has tried to impose upon international opinion, while many other imprecise data give evidence of a poor investigation or one intentionally manipulated, and, finally, presents images out of context.
Manipulation #1: Leopoldo López in an armored car, “last week” (it was February 18, 5 weeks ago). Rubio pointed out that López was transported in an armored car but did not explain that this man — currently housed in the military penitentiary of Ramo Verde as of February 18 — was transferred in an armored vehicle of the National Guard because they were protecting the ultra-right-wing leader’s life. He had been threatened with death by his own opposition party — interested in generating chaos in the land — as recognized by his own wife, Lilian Tintori, as well as his father.
Manipulation #2: Rubio says that Leopoldo was detained “for protesting against the government”. López had been sought by the Prosecutor General of the Republic for criminal offences (public instigation, damage to property, intellectual author of a crime of arson, and associating to commit crime), after his irresponsible call for people to take to the streets to demand “the exit” of the democratically elected government of Nicolás Maduro.
Manipulation #3: The government of Venezuela are “Cuban puppets” because they give “free oil” so Cuban officials come to repress. This is another falsehood which, with no proof whatsoever, is cited by protesters every day. Mmost of these are persons of middle and upper-middle class from the four most populous cities of the land, trying to insult the Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela by saying that they are Cubans. On the one hand, this shows xenophobia toward a brother people, and on the other, ignorance of the laws which do not permit that foreigners form part of Venezuela’s police or military bodies. But more importantly, they fail to realize that the overwhelming majority of those who choose to join the police or the National Guard are of humble origins, coming from working-class and poor barrios, small villages, or other humble parts of the land, in search of employment opportunities to feed their families.
Manipulation #4: The Republican senator claims that Génesis Carmona was assassinated by the national government and “civilian groups which they armed, another exportation of the Cuban model”. According to ballistics investigations, the 23-year-old model, Génesis Carmona, who was crowned as Miss Tourism, died of a bullet wound in the back which came from the opposition demonstration in which she marched in Carabobo.
Manipulation #5: Bassil DaCosta “passed away on February 11”. Another of Senator Rubio’s imprecisions is the image which shows the transfer of Bassil DaCosta — a student killed by a bullet wound — which according to the senator occurred on February 11, when in fact the international media know that this took place on February 12, the day the right-wing vandalism began. Also, it bears noting that the national government has shown every sign of seeking the truth, and guaranteeing justice in any case of human rights violation and supposed “repression”. What took place in the Caracas sector of La Candelaria on February 12 has been diligently investigated and there are persons in custody at this time. In fact, due to the terrible events in La Candelaria, President Maduro declared that the functionaries of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) who were present had disobeyed an order to stand down and that they are now detained, as of February 24, at the orders of the Public Ministry and the prosecutor’s office. Five functionaries of the SEBIN are under arrest for their presumed links to the deaths of Bassil DaCosta and Juan Montoya, which occurred on February 12 in La Candelaria. So Senator Rubio’s “investigation” has only shown a small part of the information, failing to recognize the judicial processes under way in Venezuela.
Manipulation #6: The senator claims that in Venezuela, “Twitter and Facebook were cut”. When in fact, day after day, the social networks are among the most-used means of communication in Venezuela, this right-wing media template claiming the “blocking” of these media sources on the part of the government is so ridiculous that you can draw your own conclusions. We will only emphasize that for the guarimberos themselves, Twitter, Zello, and Facebook are tools for going up against anti-imperialist governments like those of Venezuela, China, Russia, and others. And that just for that, Twitter took down 60 pages linked to the Bolivarian government and later declared it an “error”. Later, Rubio even contradicted himself: “I’ve sent tweets on all these topics which have been retweeted thousands of times by students.”
Manipulation #7: He also said that Venzuela had “run out CNN”. Not only has CNN not been kicked out of Venezuela, but it goes right on working its media terrorism. Members of the Bolivarian government have attended interviews with this channel in order to show what is really going on in the country. As well, president Nicolás Maduro accepted an interview request from the right-wing channel, as did governor Tareck el-Aissami via Skype, and also foreign minister Elías Jaua. However, it is known that CNN edited the interviews and omitted important parts of them which did not fit into the manipulative template of the US empire’s far-right lackeys. Also, right-wing representatives have been interviewed in full by journalists such as Cala: Lilian Tintori, wife of Leopoldo López; Cecilia Arocha, rector of the Central University of Venezuela, and others.
Manipulation #8: “Before that, they closed down all the independent media who criticized the government.” El Nacional, El Universal, Últimas Notícias, all are print media which not only criticize the government every day, but customarily present manipulated images and show only one side of the story. Venevisión, Televen, and Globovisión are television stations of the right, which criticize the national government with well-known programs where artists and journalists of the opposition express their opinions, such as “ChataingTV”, and “Shirley”. As well, many digital media who play a part in the media war are still at work. None of them have been closed.
Manipulation #9: With manipulated, anachronistic and decontextualized images, Rubio claims: “The Ministry of the Interior of Venezuela authorized snipers to go to Táchira, to shoot at demonstrators.” A tweeter, @Larissacostas, denounced that Rubio “used forged images in his delirium against Venezuela”, and explained that “Senator Marco Rubio lies when he shows photos claiming they were taken in Táchira, but one one of them is old, and another was taken on the roof of a military building called the General Aviation Command, located on a Caracas air base.”
Manipulation #10: The case of Marvinia Jiménez. The senator showed photo in which you can see a National Guard officer committing an assault, but he did not inform that this woman is now in prison. The Attorney General herself, Luisa Ortega Díaz, announced the detention of Josneidy Castillo, who assaulted Marvinia Jiménez in La Isabelica, Valencia.
Manipulation #11: “The government response has been repression.” Let’s recall two important points here: (a) A large minority of Venezuelans has taken part in violent actions called guarimbas to “oust” the government in upper-middle-class zones where the opposition “governs” — Daniel Ceballos, mayor of San Cristóbal, Táchira; Gustavo Marcano, of Diego Bautista Urbaneja (Lechería), Anzoátegui; Eveling Trejo de Rosales, Maracaibo, Zulia; Ramón Muchacho, of Chacao, Caracas; Gerardo Blyde, Baruta, Miranda; and David Smolansky, El Hatillo, Miranda. The guarimbas are not peaceful protests; on the contrary, they are acts that violate the rights of the citizenry — such as the right to study, work and travel freely — and have been characterized mainly by burning tires, blocked public roads, “tolls”, stringing of trip wires (steel cables of narrow diameter) and the height of a motorcyclist’s neck, and burning oil spills on the highways to cause deadly accidents. (b) The government response has been to meet and have dialogues: a Truth Commission to investigate and bring justice to any violation of human rights, functionaries of the national guard and police detained. National Peace conference with diverse sectors: economic, political, culture, popular power, students, the indigenous, among others.
Manipulation #12: The case of María Corina Machado. The senator referred to the ex-deputy of the National Assembly, María Corina Machado, who has been one of the leaders of the opposition who called for the “exit” of the government by way of guarimbas, which have produced 37 deaths to date. He says that she had not been permitted to speak in last Friday’s session of the Organization of American States (OAS) and that she was expelled by the head of the parliament, Diosdado Cabello. What the US senator did not say is that in the case of this deputy, constitutional law was applied: According to Article 149 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, “Political and public functionaries may not accept charges, honors or payments from foreign governments without the authorization of the National Assembly.”
Translation mine. Linkage added.
At this point, I really have nothing more to say than this: Sit down and shut up, Marco. You have no idea what you’re babbling about.