Blog: Opposition Violence: A Time-Worn Tactic Played Out In Venezuela (Steve Ellner/

[The media, true to form, both here in Venezuela and abroad use all their ingenuity to convince people, sometimes in subtle ways, that Chavista “hoards” are behind the current violence in Venezuela.]

Opposition Violence: A Time-Worn Tactic Played Out In Venezuela

Wednesday 12 February 2014, by Steve Ellner -

History repeats itself. The time-worn tactic of the dominant class that controls the diffusion of information is to provoke violence and then blame it on the enemy, usually those who struggle for change. Nero did it when he burned down much of Rome and blamed it on the Christians. Similarly William Hearst used the sinking of the USS Maine to create war fervor that led to the US government's war with Spain over Cuba. Hitler ordered the burning of the Reichstag and blamed it on the Communists. He also had Germans dressed as Poles attack German troops in order to justify the invasion that began World War II. The Gulf of Tonkin incident played out a similar scenario. And Bush Sr. used the same tactic to justify the invasion of Panama.

In Venezuela this tactic has been used umpteen times throughout these last 15 years. The most infamous incident was on April 11, 2002 when shootings by snipers on demonstrators justified the coup against Chavez. But the opposition in Venezuela has used this trick over and over again. During the general strike of 2002-3, a woman physically attacked a National Guardsman and then the opposition showed (out of context) the part where the Guardsman pushed the woman to the ground. In another incident, a woman protestor in Caracas approached National Guardsmen and spat on one of them, and then the private media just showed the reaction of one of the Guardsmen who pushed the instigator to the ground, again taking the incident out of context. It turned out that the instigator was a city councilperson belonging to the opposition.

Today the same thing is happening, and the private media is promoting the same deceit. Opposition demonstrators have created havoc in the center of Caracas and elsewhere, burning public buildings, using firearms after having attacked the house of the governor in the state of Tachira. The announced intention of Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader who has organised these protests, is to overthrow the government. He says it publicly. And yet the media is making it seem as if the violence is the work of motorcyclists supposedly on behalf of the Chavez government. (These same Chavista “hoards” were blamed for the violence at the time of the April, 2002 coup, in fact opposition newspaper 'El Nacional' called the Chavistas “lumpen.”)

Common sense tells you that the government has nothing to gain by promoting random violence. Furthermore there is tons of footage showing the violence perpetrated by the opposition protesters. But the media, true to form, both here in Venezuela and abroad use all their ingenuity to convince people, sometimes in subtle ways, that Chavista “hordes” are behind the violence. Sometimes all it takes is common sense to know what is going on.

Steve Ellner has been teaching at the Universidad de Oriente in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, since 1977, his latest book 'Rethinking Venezuelan Politics: Class, Conflict and the Chávez Phenomenon' (Lynne Rienner Publishers) is out now.

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