Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Tale of Two Massacres

by

One cannot escape the ample media coverage of the 25th anniversary of what has come to be known as the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which it is estimated that at least 300, and possibly 3000 civilians, were killed by state forces. [1]

Of course, that is a tragedy which deserves remembering and commemorating.  And, this commemorating should be done in an honest way.  Without belaboring this point too much, it is worth noting that there has been much mythologizing about the events in China twenty-five years ago, and I urge readers to check out both the Columbia School of Journalism [2] and Nikolas Kristoff’s New York Times account from that time period.  [3]

Another event, which took place 25 years ago, also deserves commemorating.  This event, which the U.S. media has almost entirely ignored, involved the state murder of hundreds (at least 300), if not thousands (possibly 3,000) of protestors in Venezuela.  [4]  In other words, the estimates of those protestors killed in Venezuela are identical to the estimates of those killed in Beijing.  Of course, given that Venezuela has a tiny population (around 30 million) compared to that of China (over 1 billion), these numbers are proportionately much greater.

And moreover, these events in Venezuela, now known as the Caracazo, led to historic change in Venezuela and Latin America as they would lead to the political rise of Hugo Chavez who opposed the Caracazo massacre and who would become President ten years later in great part due to the population’s reaction to it.  And, as Noam Chomsky has opined, Chavez’s leadership in turn led to “the historic liberation of Latin America” after 500 years of subjugation by the Spanish and the U.S.  [5]  No small feat, indeed!

But again, these monumental events, which began with poor Venezuelans rising up against an increase in fuel prices, apparently deserve no mention, at least as judged by the Western media.

Why this difference in coverage by the U.S. press?  Again, if one were to look at the magnitude of these two events, Venezuela’s Caracazo would deserve as much, if not more, coverage than the killings in Beijing.   However, the killings during the Caracazo were, in the word of Chomsky again, of “unworthy victims,” because these killings were carried out by a government – that of President Carlos Andres Perez – that was aligned with the United States.  And, the David that would bring down this Goliath was Hugo Chavez, a perceived enemy of the U.S.

Moreover, the Caracazo is a problem for U.S. journalists because the number of its victims dwarfs the number of individuals (a total of 42) killed during the most recently months of protests in Venezuela.   And, this 42 includes a sizable number of state security forces and pro-government activists who were killed by violent opposition protestors. [6]  In other words, the reaction of Venezuela’s government, now led by Chavez successor Nicolas Maduro, appears, and in fact has been, much more restrained than that of the pro-U.S. government which preceded Hugo Chavez.  But again, you would not know this from U.S. media coverage of these events.

In short, the Caracazo is an inconvenient event for the U.S. media, for it calls into question the prevailing and ceaseless narrative that the U.S. is on the side of freedom and human rights in the world while its ostensible enemies — like China and the Chavista government in Venezuela — are opposed to these.  Of course, the opposite is many times true, with the U.S. perceived around the world, and quite rightly so, as the greatest threat to world peace.  [7]  But again, you would not know this either from the captive U.S. press and its Orwellian coverage of world events.

The take away from all of this: question your government and the media that is so closely aligned with it if you want to know the truth.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Notes. 

[1] http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-tiananmen-white-house-china-victims-20140604-story.html

 

[2]  http://www.cjr.org/behind_the_news/the_myth_of_tiananmen.php?page=all

 

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/1989/06/13/world/turmoil-china-tiananmen-crackdown-student-s-account-questioned-major-points.html

 

[4] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-12593085

 

[5] http://venezuelanalysis.com/video/8695

 

[6] http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10722

[7] http://bit.ly/1okhlQL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]