Venezuelan president blames U.S. media for misrepresenting the country, plotting overthrow of government
By Paulina Garza and Samantha Badgen*
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused foreign media and the U.S. government of misrepresenting the country and of participating in a collective plot to overthrow the Venezuelan government, Bloomberg reported.
“They’re calling for civil war, hatred and are lying to the world about what is happening in Venezuela. This comes back to the owner of CNN. He is the one who sets the guidelines. And they work with the State Department, and from there they use that network to foment a pretend war among Venezuelans and to say internationally there should be intervention in Venezuela,” Maduro said according to CNN.
The president's criticism comes in the wake of international coverage on protests in Venezuela, and as citizens continue to flock the country's streets banging posts and pans to show their discontent with the government.
“We are [protesting] because we’re demanding rights here in Venezuela. We cannot continue with this corrupt government, we are not allowed to do anything, there is no freedom of expression, students are mistreated,” said medical student Jose Bandares in an interview with British newspaper The Telegraph.
On Thursday, a week after the government blocked Colombian news channel NTN24’s signal mid-transmission, it suspended the work permits of seven journalists, including those of CNN’s Caracas-based reporters Osmary Hernández and Patricia Janiot.
According to BBC Mundo, Janiot spoke about the incident in her television program Nuestro Mundo on Friday after returning from Caracas. The journalist said that in addition to having her work permit revoked, she and a colleague suffered hostile treatment at the airport, where they were taken to an anti-drug office and searched for drugs and explosives.
However, just one day after revoking their press credentials and announcing that the CNN journalists were to leave the country, Maduro began to backpedal, CNN reported.
According to CNN, Maduro now says that foreign reporters will be allowed to stay in the country as long as they respect Venezuela's laws.
“I know they want to stay in Venezuela,” Maduro said during a press conference. “Do it. Cover Venezuela. Cover it in a balanced way. When they call you and say ‘report this,’ find a balance… a balance based on respect for Venezuelan laws. He who does not respect the laws will not be on Venezuelan airwaves.”
In the press conference, Maduro also condemned other US media outlets, including Fox News, ABC, and NBC, for encouraging opposition against the government.
The Venezuelan government and media companies in the country have had a contentious relationship since deceased former president Hugo Chávez rose to power. Recently, journalists have been attacked by officials and civilians during protests.
Last week, the Venezuelan government deported three U.S. diplomats, after accusing them of plotting to overthrow the government.
Infobae reported on Feb. 25 that the protests in Venezuela have left 14 dead and at least 137 wounded.
*Paulina Garza and Samantha Badgen are students in the class "Journalism in Latin America" at the University of Texas. Samantha Badgen also works as an intern for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.
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