Caracas, Venezuela. Jan 9, 2003. (Venezuelanalysis.com).- A delegation of African-American activists visiting Venezuela, sharply criticized the commercial news media for what they describe as a "disinformation campaign" against the peaceful and democratic process of changes underway in Venezuela, and against President Hugo Chavez.
|African-American activists met with Venezuelan Minister of Planning and Development Jorge Giordani to discuss some of the country's development plans.|
The North American delegation began this Thursday an eight-day visit to get a first hand assessment of the political and economical situation, and to explore race relations in racially mixed South American country.
Bill Fletcher, president of the TransAfrica Forum, at a press conference in Caracas complained that the American people were being bombarded with "innuendo, lies and half-truths" about Venezuela.
Fletcher criticized both the media and the US government for their continued attacks against the Venezuelan government. He citied the case of false accusations of President Chavez support for Colombian guerrillas. "They don't offer any proof, then they don't apologize but go on and prepare the next attack," said Fletcher.
Fletcher criticized the hostility of the US government towards Venezuela, and reminded people about the reports of US involvement in the short lived coup d'etat of April 2002 against President Chavez. The American activist accused President Bush of continuing giving support for activities aimed at toppling a legitimate and elected government such as Venezuela's.
"Nothing to do with reality"
Actor Danny Glover agreed with Fletcher's statements and added that the majority of the information they currently receive about Venezuela "has nothing to do with reality", and that the only accurate information they can get comes fro people they know, who traveled to Venezuela and saw with their own eyes what is really happening. "It is very important for us because we live in the most powerful country in the world and with one of the most powerful information systems. We really what to analyze what’s happening in Venezuela," said Glover.
|Bill Fletcher, president of the TransAfrica Forum, criticized both the media and the US government for their continued attacks against the Venezuelan government.|
"This isn't Danny Glover the artist. I'm here as a citizen, not only of the US, but a citizen of the world. We understand fully the importance of this historical moment," said Glover. He said to understand “the importance of being part of a multiple vision of the world, which includes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's vision, Simon Bolivar's vision, and the sacrifice of all those who have participated for many years in the building of a more just society.” Simon Bolivar is Venezuela’s independent hero from which President Chavez says to draw inspiration.
Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, who met with the delegation, said that the North American visitors are a very representative group of diverse tendencies of progressive and social causes of profound political, social, ethical and moral content.
At the end of the press conference, James Early, Director of Cultural Studies and Communication at the Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies at the Smithsonian Institution, said to be surprised that none of the journalist's questions were about subjects of cultural or racial diversity. "¿What are you journalists doing to educate the Venezuelan people about racial and cultural diversity?. Democracy in the hemisphere relies heavily on the social responsibility of journalists, and asking questions only about the government or the opposition isn’t going to help reach that goal. Democracy is not the government or the opposition, it is the people, being the people of Venezuela or the people of the United States," said Early.
Education and Sports Minister Aristobulo Isturiz, a black man of African descent, couldn’t hide his satisfaction at the way the American delegation answered tricky questions from local anti-Chavez journalists. Isturiz has been described as a "monkey" or "chimpanzee" by opposition journalists in the past. He will join the delegation at the inauguration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Bolivarian School at the predominately black town of Naiguata. Some local news media only briefly mentioned the presence of the Americans in their newscasts. Others decided to ignore it complelty.
The delegation includes acclaimed artists, actors, activists and scholars members of the TransAfrica Forum, distinguished organizations that studies and defends African-American issues in the United States. The North American delegation includes actor Danny Glover; TransAfrica president, Bill Fletcher; Patricia Ford, International Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Sylvia Hill, Professor of Criminology and Director of the Department of Urban Studies in Washington, DC; Julianne Malyeaux, Economist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and the Vice President of TransAfrica Forum, Selena Mendy Singleton, James Early, Director of Cultural Studies and Communication at the Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies at the Smithsonian Institution, and human rights activist Malika Asha Sanders, Executive Director of the 21st Century Youth Movement, amongst others.