The enigma of truth in Venezuela: conflicting reports of protests, death tolls

The Venezuelan president has criticized the international media for distorting its coverage of the political crisis, as the media grapples with blackouts and regulations.
Posted By JC Finley  |  Feb. 24, 2014 at 2:13 PM
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CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Political tensions continue to flare in Venezuela, with conflicting accounts of responsibility, actions, and disparate death tolls complicating the world's comprehension of the ground truth.

With a government-imposed media blackout and regulation of media outlets, CNN drew upon its iReporters to sort fact from fiction. CNN users submitted more than 2,700 reports on Venezuela, 120 of which were vetted by CNN.

Of those vetted reports, CNN iReporter Giorgio Russo submitted a video that depicted the difference between messaging and reality. In the video, he captured Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's statement on TV that the political crisis was under control. He then panned to a scene outside his 14-story apartment, where national guard troops were firing tear gas canisters, and then to his surprise, a tear gas canister came through his apartment window.

The New York Times reported that the death toll from the past two weeks of anti-government protester clashes is also subject to debate. At least 11 have died.

A young man stabbed over the weekend garnered a presidential comment, and skepticism. The president claimed the young man was mistaken for a protester when he was stabbed by a man who "had been humiliated by demonstrators in an earlier incident."

Daneil Ceballos, mayor of San Cristobal, challenged the president's account and asserted that the young man was killed in a robbery attempt. The president, Mayor Ceballos challenged, was attempting to link the young man's death with the protests "to justify his repression, to justify his militarization" of the state.

The president addressed reporters at a press conference on February 22, criticizing their coverage of the political crisis: "You all, with your broadcasts to the world, the international media have filled thousands of people with hate, desperation and fear, a dangerous mixture."

[CNN] [New York Times] [The Telegraph]

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