Violent pro-Maduro thugs are Western media propaganda

Summary

As opposition leader Juan Guaido is preparing a US-sponsored coup in Venezuela, pro-government activists in the country are bracing for possible military intervention.

The activists — or colectivos — are demonised by the mainstream media and portrayed in the West as government-sanctioned thugs who harass the opposition with impunity. In reality, these collective-action groups help alleviate poverty in working class areas of Caracas, and have served as volunteer organizers in national elections.

If they do take up arms, it will be to defend Venezuela from potential armed intervention by the United States.

Disproof

The story advances a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative painting the Maduro regime as facing an imminent US-sponsored coup.

The colectivos are not "demonised" by the Western media. These groups have been fiercely criticised by multiple human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and the International Crisis Group (pp. 18-19).

The colectivos have served as a virtual appendage to law enforcement since the early Chavez years (p. 18), and they now control entire neighbourhoods of Caracas. Some colectivo groups are indeed engaged in state anti-poverty programs, but this has only helped them tighten their grip on urban areas whose dependence on government aid is the highest.

Among other things, the colectivos have been involved in extrajudicial killings, drug trafficking, grand theft auto, attacks on opposition media, violent suppression of anti-government protests, and election rigging.

In May 2018, the Organization of American States announced it would present the International Criminal Court with evidence of crimes against humanity perpetrated by pro-Maduro colectivos, including 131 murders between 2014 and 2017.

Amid nationwide power outages plaguing Venezuela since March 2019, President Maduro called on the colectivos to "defend the peace of every barrio," implicitly linking the blackouts to the opposition. The following month, the National Assembly of Venezuela designated the colectivos as "terrorists" for their "paramilitary actions of violence, intimidation, murder, and other crimes."

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 145
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/04/2019
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Venezuela, US
  • Keywords: Juan Guaido, Nicolas Maduro, Human rights, Coup
  • Outlet: RT (rt.com)
see more

The US is making plans for the ‘balkanization’ and fragmentation of Venezuela

The United States are planning to foment unrest and secessionism to force the territorial division of Venezuela in order to gain access to its natural resources. There are several areas as potential focus for an artificially-fuelled separatism: the Paraguaná peninsula (rich in hydrocarbons), the so-called ‘Western half-moon’ composed by the states of Zulia, Táchira and Mérida (rich in hydrocarbons, agrarian and farming products), the ‘Western triangle’ of the cities of Barquisimeto, Acarigua and Valencia (strategically decisive) and the region of Guayana (rich in minerals).

Disproof

Recurring disinformation narrative about US intervention in Venezuela's internal affairs. There is no evidence of a secessionist movement in any region of Venezuela with enough support to present a threat to the central authorities, much less that the US is making plans to promote one.

The conflict of the Pemon communities with the Venezuelan state has a long historical tradition. It is taking a political, anti-government turn, but no scholar or analyst considers it a serious challenge to the territorial integrity of Venezuela. The disinformation narrative is rooted in the fear dating to the Chavist regime about the emergence of a separatist movement in the richest regions, such as the one in the Santa Cruz province in Bolivia in the last decade, that could be exploited from abroad to destabilize the country.

Belarusian opposition, civic activists and independent journalists make kill lists for Western security bodies

Each opposition organisation, civic activists and independent media outlets in Belarus prepare kill lists, which contain information (first and last names, names of the relatives, passwords, photos, etc.) about high-ranking state officials, policemen and employees of other law-enforcement agencies, entrepreneurs, etc.  For instance, civic activists can take photos of Belarusian policemen in plain clothes at public events such as the celebration of the 101st anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic. These lists are likely aggregated into one database, controlled by Western security bodes.

In case of a peaceful power change in Belarus the persons in the kill lists will be subject to lustration. Law-enforcement agencies like the Ministry of Interior, the KGB and the Investigation Committee will be dissolved. The restoration of the law-enforcement apparatus will take place on the orders of Western donors. In case the power change in Belarus is not peaceful, then those on the kill lists and their relatives will be declared the enemies of the people and executed whereas their kids will  be labeled the dregs of society.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory and ungrounded claims aimed to discredit the West, democratic Belarusian opposition, civic activists and independent journalists. This disinformation message is a modification of recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about western attempts to organize a colour revolution in Belarus and to disrupt Belarus-Russia relations.

Ukrainian “partisan leader” was arrested near Moscow

In the Moscow region, an activist with the surname Pirozhok of the extremist Ukrainian organisation “Praviy Sektor” was arrested for being sent to Russia for propaganda and recruitment purposes.

Disproof

No evidence given. Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the "Praviy Sektor [Right Sector]" threatening Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians.

Artem Skoropadsky, spokesman of "Praviy Sektor", said that Pirozhok was member of the organisation until the end of 2014.  According to the spokesman, Pirozhok was excluded from the "Right Sector" because of "banditry schemes", and currently has no contact and had nothing in common with the organisation for at least four years.