Forces representing wrangling sides in Venezuela swooped down on Barbados, joining locals over the weekend, to continue a confrontation of words on the state of democracy in that South American country.
As scores of delegates from the Caribbean, North, Central, and South America met for four days from Friday for the mid-year Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) conference where Venezuela In Crisis was discussed, a number of Venezuelan academics and journalists came
in for a panel discussion that focused on allegations of a propaganda war against the country’s administration.
Added to this meeting were protesting Venezuelans residing in Barbados, who say their country is in turmoil because of the present government. This placard-bearing group moved from the beach at Needham’s Point to the IAPA conference hall during the course
of that meeting.
“We are here because of the democratic process that is at the very heart of the Bolivarian Revolution,” said Barbadian activist and organiser of the Friends Of Venezuela panel discussion at the Radisson Aquatica, David Commisiong, on Saturday. “We understand our duty to give principled solidarity and support to the democratically elected government of President Nicholas Maduro and his United Socialist Party of Venezuela.”
Just metres away at the Hilton, IAPA president Elizabeth Ballantine spoke during the course of that conference about the alleged restrictions in Venezuela, and said: “We are lucky to have here in Barbados a good number of representatives from that country whose departure from Venezuela was severely hampered.”
She described a number of campaigns as “a laudable initiative” across the American continent, highlighting what is described as atrocities in Venezuela.
“I am very proud of our response throughout the Americas to the Venezuelan crisis,” she said and spoke of witnessing on video “the shocking situation of violence against the media in Venezuela”.
“We see in Venezuela and Cuba the injustices in these countries when the governments seize complete political power.”
Barbados TODAY attended the Commission-moderated meeting and heard from a panel of locals and Venezuelans of falsified information being sent abroad, or originating overseas, on the situation in Venezuela where they contend there are only pockets of protests.
Panellist UWI lecturer Dr Tennyson Joseph broadsided Barbadian and Caribbean journalists for not analyzing information to “separate nonsense from sense” in their reportage.
“[What] I’m going to leave with our media people in particular is that, let us not walk like lambs to the slaughter. Let us not damage our national consciousness by our uncritical acceptance of enemy’s views as our own.”
Comissiong accused IAPA of invading “our generous and trusting nation and has set about to use our sacred land as the location to launch a cynical and destructive propaganda assault on our sister Caribbean Basin nation”.
He accused this grouping of media organization owners of being CIA-controlled with a right-wing agenda and noted that the majority of its presidents were American. Further slamming IAPA for what he sees as its stance against the Venezuelan government run by the party once led by the late Hugo Chavez, Comissiong recalled an IAPA president Robert Cox endorsing a brief 2002 coup against that former democratically elected Venezuelan leader.
“This is the organization that has come to Barbados to teach us about democracy and respect for freedom . . . . It is an organization that is a master at mobilizing the immense media power that comes from controlling some 13,000 media corporations right across the Americas region to wage all-out psychological warfare against socialist and progressive governments and nations by spreading misinformation on a massive scale,” Comissiong said.
He zeroed in on an IAPA panel discussion titled Venezuela In Crisis, Journalists Speak happening at the same time as his meeting, and described it as “a very ironic panel that talks about journalists speaking when the major member of that panel is not a journalist at all”.
He was referring to Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezema.
Commisiong accused the mayor of being “one of the three most vehement opponents and political enemies of the [Venezuelan president] Nicholas Maduro administration”.
He said that IAPA panel discussion would therefore be biased.
“This is like saying that you are going to have a scholarly and objective panel discussion to determine who is the better footballer between Pelé and Maradona and you invite Maradona to sit on the panel.”