[News] International Media Barely Raises Eyebrow over Assassination of Pro-Government Legislator in Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 6 18:19:08 EDT 2014

  International Media Barely Raises Eyebrow over Assassination of
  Pro-Government Legislator in Venezuela


By Ewan Robertson, October 6th 2014

The gruesome assassination of pro-government lawmaker Robert Serra (27) 
and his partner Maria Herrera last Wednesday has shaken the 
administration of President Nicolas Maduro and the wider country. Serra 
was the youngest member of the National Assembly and a rising star in 
the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

When details of the assassination 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10944> first emerged, including that 
Serra had been gagged, handcuffed and stabbed up to 40 times in his 
Caracas home, the hypothesis that the murder was an act of political 
terrorism linked to far-right extremists gained traction among several 
politicians, diplomats and academics. These observers pointed 
to the way Serra's assassination was carried out, other recent 
assassinations or attempts on chavista figures, the presence of 
far-right armed groups in the "guarimba" barricades earlier this year, 
and the emergence of videos tying far-right Venezuelan activists with 
former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. Perhaps the most forthright and 
unexpected statement came from UNASUR secretary general Ernesto Sampar, 
himself a former Colombian president, who tweeted that, "The 
assassination of the young legislator Robert Serra in Venezuela is a 
worrying sign of the infiltration of Colombian paramilitarism".

Venezuela's conservative opposition has played down the murder as just 
another case of common crime, drawing attention to the high homicide 
rate and obliquely using the issue to further criticise the government's 
performance. This stance drew fire from Eleazar Diaz Rangel, the editor 
of the country's largest newspaper, Ultimas Noticias, who wrote in his 
Sunday column 
that the opposition had "missed another chance" to distance itself from 
far-right violence and "those who internally must have applauded it".

International media sidesteps the issue

International media outlets appear to have taken a similar approach to 
the Venezuelan opposition, downplaying Serra's assassination and the 
hypothesis that it was a pre-planned act of political terrorism. As 
such, articles by Reuters 
the BBC <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-29455219> and 
others were quick to draw attention to the country's crime rate in their 
articles reporting the high-profile murder. Perhaps the most obfuscating 
article was the Christian Science Monitor which led with, "Venezuelan 
politician's murder: More pressure on Maduro to crack down on crime 
Fox News meanwhile headlined: "Venezuelan lawmaker who taunted 
government opponents slain at home" 
a slur for which the article itself provided no evidence.

None of the articles reviewed by this author mentioned the opinion of 
UNASUR secretary general Sampar or the evidence used to suggest that the 
assassination may have been politically motivated. That hypothesis, when 
reported, was attributed solely to the views of President Maduro or 
government officials.

The second notable aspect of the coverage given to Serra's murder was 
the media's disinterest. Many outlets gave the event minimum reportage: 
the New York Times 
devoted one paragraph to the murder, while ABC 
went with a short re-post of an Associated Press article. Several other 
principal outlets in the English speaking world did not report the 
events at all. The UK Guardian, which has a correspondent in Caracas, 
opted not to cover the murder. The most recent article on the 
newspaper's Venezuela section 
<http://www.theguardian.com/world/venezuela>, dated 24th September, is 
about shortages of brand-name breast implants. On the same day, the 
paper also covered the jailing of three men convicted for the murders of 
former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her ex husband Thomas Berry, who 
were tragically killed during a highway robbery in central Venezuela in 

Lack of interest, lack of concern

Indeed, the treatment of Serra's murder contrasts sharply with that of 
Spear's: the latter's received global attention for weeks 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10276> and generated an onslaught of 
criticism on Venezuela's crime statistics and government security 
policies. The former meanwhile has barely caused international media to 
raise an eyebrow. Most of the outlets which did bother to report Serra's 
assassination used the occasion to give the government another rap on 
the knuckles about high crime rates, while sidestepping the issue of 
far-right political violence.

Is this because the murder of a former beauty queen is more important 
than that of a young left wing legislator? Or is it because the 
assassination of a pro-government deputy and the spectre of right-wing 
political violence are inconvenient to the prevailing narrative about 
Venezuela and its government? Would such a disinterested media tone be 
employed if the same act occurred to an opposition politician and groups 
associated with Chavismo were in any way implicated?

The answers to these questions highlight how tightly -- and uniformly -- 
the world's principal media outlets stick to their negative and 
accusatory narrative on Venezuela, and how events or information awkward 
to that narrative is either ignored, minimised or re-interpreted. It's 
another reminder of how necessary alternative sources of information are 
to provide fair and accurate reportage of Venezuela in this current, 
critical moment.

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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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