Fauxccupy: The Selling and Buying of the Venezuelan Opposition

March 15, 2014


MARCH 13, 2014 BY 
EDITOR’S NOTE: Latino Rebels contributor Roberto Lovato visited Venezuela last week and wrote the following opinion piece. As of this morning, according to reports, the death toll resulting from the protests in Venezuela is at 25. The most recent violent events have occurredin San Cristóbal, near the Venezuela/Colombia border.


CARACAS—Reports and imagery coming out of Venezuela in the past weeks would lead the casual observer to conclude that the country’s youthful opposition are “peaceful protesters” following a long line of global youth activism seen during the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement or in other parts of Latin America. Such a conclusion would be false, as the news from Venezuela’s protests contains journalistic practices that are very questionable and on an unprecedented scale.

Consider, for example, how both sides have killed people. The corporate media (both in English and in Spanish) have failed to cover the eight (or more) pro-Chavista victims of student and other opposition violence. No one is investigating claims that the majority of the killings were committed by the opposition. The radical erasure of pro-Chavista victims is astonishing. The following image, for instance, allegedly shows Venezuelan opposition students setting up barbed wire that beheaded an innocent cyclist, 29 year-old Elvis Rafael Durán de La Rosa, whose death eluded most global media.


Another example used in the carefully curated Venezuela media reports pertains to the images of rock-bearing youth wearing Guy Fawkes masks, a popular symbol of anti-capitalist movements, thanks to a Hollywood movie and, more recently, the Occupy protests.

Last week, I conducted interviews with opposition members, including dozens of opposition youth. Amost all of the youth were middle- to upper-class university students living in middle-class to ultra-elite neighborhoods of Caracas, the wealthiest in the Americas. Asked it they identified with  ”anarchists,” “Marxists”  or any of the other oppositional ideologies that have historically and which still define most opposition movements in the region, these students uniformly responded in the negative, with some even throwing in a “para nada!” or other Spanish equivalents of “hell no!”

Some interviewed even told me they identified with military men like El Generalísimo Marcos Pérez Jiménez, a much reviled former dictator. They also identified with Venezuela’s opposition, led by three elites —Henrique Capriles, María Corina Machado and Leopoldo Lopez— all of whom have direct familial ties to either the owners or top executives of the most important corporate conglomerates in Venezuela and the entire continent.

So ask the following question: If the Venezuelan opposition is led by millionaires in a poor country and if instead of fighting multi-million dollar US policy initiatives (as do most Latin American opposition movements) the Venezuelan opposition is receiving million$ from US policy, how do we account for all those images of students wearing a symbol associated with and used by leftist movements?

The answer is threefold. One is that the mask-wearing is part of the very sophisticated media training the students (and the opposition) received from OTPOR/CANVAS and other consultants bought with millions of US dollars. Second, students engaging in violent acts or those who fear retribution need cover. Finally, there is the logic of the market—people buying the masks because they’re cool and because someone saw a chance to make a buck, which is what I mostly documented in the photos I took last week.



(Photos: Roberto Lovato)

Without closely analyzing the imagery and careful curation of the Venezuelan opposition, one would conclude that this opposition is just like Che Guevara or Occupy or the Arab Spring. And with Venezuelan student opposition leaders like Yon Goicochea receiving the $500,000 Milton Friedman prize and other funding from private sources as well as from the U.S. government, there’s much more behind the Guy Fawkes masks in Venezuela than meets the media eye. And we may be witnessing the birth of something altogether new and radically different in the insurgent continent of América: Fauxccupy.


Roberto Lovato is a writer and dissonant dude. You can read more at his blog. You can also follow him on Twitter @robvato.


5 Responses to “Fauxccupy: The Selling and Buying of the Venezuelan Opposition”

  1. I recently got asked a question about this in a class in which I was taking a brief digression into a history of US intervention in Latin America during a class on Chicano/Latino Culture. I got asked what I thought of what was happening in Latin America and specifically “Cartagena”. I said “Do you mean Venezuela?” (yes) so I replied that it had to be viewed in the context of US Latin American relation and went into gunship diplomacy, Cuba, Guatemala, Chile, and explained that the US-Latin American dynamic was not a policy project that Obama or any one person had any control over, but that a modern ‘Monroe Doctrine’ was at work and what is going on in Venezuela has to be viewed in this context and that it represents an elite response to a moderate redistribution of public services and education to the poor. I have not been there, but my impression is that it seems like a lot but actual its small compared to what is needed. The elites, robbed of their total dominance but not of their wealth, want to control everything and are getting massive U.S. aid to regain it, and “our country” (the US Govt) is helping them, knows full well what is going on, and does not care. What is important is full hegemony, access to unfettered exploitation rights, and the people be damned.

    • On the other hand, here in the US, the media is putting this in the same context as Ukraine and the Arab Spring movements. This confuses the issue and reveals how little Americans understand of world politics. If a T.V. or media viewer is ‘properly educated’ and thus gullible and reactively pro-U.S. policy, they will accept the mainstream perspective. When I present this to a range of students of various disciplines, they are not well-informed (obvious) and seem amazed that the information presented seems both outrageous and also not surprising. The US and the CIA has declassifed Guatemala and will soon declassify more of the Chile coup. I think people realize, once presented with a few facts, that there is a story that (although public) has not been presented to them. And why not? The purpose of public k-12 education is to prepare them to obey. The Universities give an opportunity to learn more, but little clue as to how to act. Especially since these policies have been in effect over 100 years, and show little sign of changing in any substantive way.

  2. Alex Escalona Says:

    Thanks Roberto. As a Venezuelan who grew up in a squarely middle-class family from Caracas, I couldn’t agree more with your findings, as well as the reply piece you posted for one of your readers. Having been in Caracas for two weeks while visit family over turkey day last year, I can say wholeheartedly that the impacts of the Bolivarian revolution were clear to see all over the city…esp. If, unlike many caraqueños in “el este” you wandered into the more “popular” parts of the city. I was really just speechless by the fact that long gone were the buhoneros, or street vendors, of old that teemed throughout el centre and sabana grande especially. In their place I saw instead throngs of everyday Venezuelans from the sectores populares, as they say, out and about peacefully shopping, eating at cafés and just enjoying a more comfortable standard of life than what they had just 15 years ago, when Chavez was first elected into power. I could go on and on about the positive, if anecdotal and first hand observations that I collected effortlessly everywhere I wandered and walked across the city in general. Yes there are food and some basic stuff shortages, and sure the increasing crime rate has never let up since the economy started going south in the early 80s, but then there is abounding evidence of sabotage and smuggling of the same missing stuffs across into Colombia, where speculators can make a larger killing on their profit-hungry business venture. And as far as crime goes, we’ll I have faith that the government will redouble their efforts to creatively address this very long running issue in the country.

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