Cheerleading for the Coup: An Analysis of Media Coverage of Venezuelan Politics

By Nick Pendergrast

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Self-declared President of Venezuela, Opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Image from channelnewsasia.com

It was sad to hear about the attempted coup by the US-backed far-right Opposition in Venezuela. I watched some ABC News (USA) coverage of it and they were really beating the drum for the coup and even seemed disappointed that there was no direct US intervention there yet.*

ABC News mentioned that Opposition leader Juan Guaidó checked with Trump’s administration before declaring himself President but then thought it was ridiculous when Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called Guaidó a “US puppet”.

They also unquestioningly accepted Guaidó’s justifications for declaring himself President, such as:

The most recent election was not valid because the Opposition was not included.

Just because the Opposition boycotted the election and instead attempted to go down the road of a US-backed coup, that does not make the elections invalid. In fact some Opposition candidates such as Henri Falcon did not boycott the election and instead ran as Candidates in the 2018 election.

The result was not valid because there was not enough participation.

In the 2018 Venezuelan election there was a 46.1% voter turnout, compared to a similar 50.1% in the 2018 US mid-term election. Presidential elections in the US always have a higher participation rate and the last Presidential election had a significantly higher, 60.1% turnout. However, in terms of share of the vote, in the 2018 Venezuelan election, Maduro received 67.7% of the vote compared to Trump’s 47.0% in 2016. This means that Trump received the support of 28.2% of Americans in the most recent Presidential election in 2016, compared to Maduro receiving the support of 31.2% of Venezuelans in the most recent election in 2018.

If you’d like to hear more about the situation in Venezuela, you can listen to a first-hand account from journalist Federico Fuentes on episode 224 of our podcast. Also follow Federico on Twitter @FredFuentesGLW for updates on the situation.

*Unfortunately the specific video I’m discussing has been removed since I published this article but you can view ABC News (USA) coverage of Venezuela generally here.

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