Americanism abroad : Nicaraguan media and regional context
Americanism abroad : Nicaraguan media and regional context
The perception management of foreign politics for imperialist propaganda purposes works across countries as a self-fuelling, one-sided Moebius-strip production line. Re-selling by corporate
Disinformation and outright falsehoods broadcast in countries like
Self-perpetuating and vicious, thoroughly disingenuous and totally political, this cycle is probably the single most important perception management mechanism for promoting Americanism. The cycle's purpose is to subordinate the interests of all the peoples of the
The aggressive politicization of corporate media outlets and their disinformation output is an established fact throughout
The media in
Since the Sandinista-led FSLN coalition won the election in November of last year, local opposition media have struggled, obviously trying to work out a clear strategy to destroy the new government's credibility. As in countries like
Among them, the Channel 2 television station and the La Prensa daily national newspaper consistently push the Americanist views of
All these media are categorically hostile to the FSLN and, to a lesser degree, to the Constitutional Liberal Party led by disgraced former President Arnoldo Aleman. They all offer an analysis of
They promote the corporate capitalist model of integration : concentrating wealth among an elite, consolidating a corporate-friendly professional and managerial middle class and a trickle-down poverty-reduction strategy for the impoverished majority along with debt-plus-aid interventions from the
Conversely, the FSLN-led coalition favours integration via ALBA - the Bolivarian Alternative for the
Manufacturing pretexts : RCTV and half-baked exposÃ©
No surprise then that
These political moves mirror the integration of dissident sandinista media personalities into the broad right-wing and centre media onslaught against the FSLN-led coalition government. Even Channel 2's weekly cultural magazine programme "Tertulia" regularly features anti-FSLN hatchet jobs presented as topical interviews by veteran journalist Edgar Tijerino. It is hard to believe the news manufacturing process between Channel 2 , Channel 8, La Prensa and Nuevo Diario is not coordinated at some level by the individual members of
On the RCTV issue, all these media sided with the corporate media gangsters of the Venezuelan oligarchy. Chamorro's Esta Noche programme ran a friendly interview with representatives of the Latin American media bosses' organization the Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa (SIP). Chamorro followed this up with a hostile interview of the Venezuelan ambassador whom he failed to trip up into admitting a revanchist political motive for the Venezuelan government's decision not to renew RCTV's broadcast licence. Even so, in an immediate to-camera editorial following that interview, Chamorro insisted that whatever the ambassador might say, the non-renewal of RCTV's licence was a politically motivated, discretionary decision of President Chavez.
Cleverly taking advantage of the orchestrated regional international political outcry around bogus "freedom of expression" concerns, Chamorro was able to place the RCTV related editions of his programmes in the week immediately after a programme alleging high-level government involvement in corrupt land deals. The programme was a skewed exposÃ© by Chamorro's Esta Semana team of one of the innumerable corrupt land deals that have characterised Nicaragua's chaotic property law ever since the 1990 election which left vast tracts of land and innumerable individual properties in a legal no-man's land. The effects of that mess prevail right up to the present, making property transactions in
Screening their badly-researched exposÃ© at this juncture was very clearly politically motivated. The exposÃ© attacked the FSLN leadership personally by making baseless claims of their involvement in corruption. It also played on the "freedom of expression" motif by claiming that the exposÃ© placed its instigators at risk of politically motivated repression. The programme's substantive accusations were made by a local businessman about land investments in the Tola area of
Subsequent enquiries by the attorney general's office demonstrated that one key allegation - that the corrupt land deal was negotiated in the FSLN's head office - was completely false. During the period in question the individuals concerned never entered that office, rigorously controlled by the Nicaraguan police. The Sandinista Multinoticia's news programme pointed to potential conflicts of interest in Chamorro's own relationship to the contentious property deals. But the truth of the matter - who did what to whom over a few dozen acres of land - is perhaps much less important than the affair's manipulation by leading anti-FSLN media empresarios like Chamorro and his colleagues in Nicaragua's media industry.
The ALN aligned Channel 2 resurrected old archive footage of the allegedly corrupt official in a meeting with Daniel Ortega. Whenever the case is covered on Channel 2 the technique has been to run the archive footage for about 15 seconds before putting up a tiny "archive" sub-title to indicate the footage is not current. Chamorro can certainly distance himself from this blatant intellectual dishonesty but he has achieved his probable aim which, despite transparently cynical claims to be merely anxious to expose corruption, was most likely to smear the FSLN leadership. Few other constructions can be put on Chamorro's politically motivated selective reporting, given the consistent anti-FSLN Americanism both of his current affairs television programmes and of Confidencial, his MRS aligned web magazine.
Think globally, act locally : Americanism does too
Recent editions of Chamorro's nightly current affairs programme Esta Noche are characterised by the kind of slavish Americanism one has come to expect from a political movement content to seek anointment from the US State Department as "democratic" and to accept financial support from the US Republican Party's electoral intervention specialists, the International Republican Institute. One recent programme allowed a representative of the private foundation of pro-US Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to assert that the upcoming referendum in Costa Rica on the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was not in fact about the benefits or otherwise of CAFTA, but rather about the validity of Costa Rica's State-owned insurance and communications companies. Chamorro said nothing about this glaring distortion, despite the widespread rejection of CAFTA in
Another programme included Alejandro BendaÃ±a, former diplomat in the first Ortega government along with Segio Garcia Quintero (1) a right wing foreign affairs commentator and former diplomat to discuss President Ortega's official visit to
Unfortunately, Chamorro's trivializing, petty Americanist brand of analysis and reporting is, with hardly any exceptions, pretty much as good as mainstream national Nicaraguan journalism gets. One has to go to Radio La Primerisima, via its radio broadcasts in the capital
Just as in
President Ortega's visit to
The Nicaraguan President's discussions in Algeria, Libya and Iran will certainly have included technical training and cooperation components to ensure the successful construction and operation of the new oil refinery to be started this year on Nicaragua's Pacific Coast with funding from Venezuela. As the FSLN-led coalition government sucessfully consolidates its domestic policies and the ALBA bloc develops a coherent common foreign policy, the Nicaraguan media will take on an ever more significant and active role in defending local corporate interests and attacking the country's people-first government. The next big test in this power struggle will be the municipal elections towards the end of 2008.
toni solo is an activist based in
Note: The version of this article originally published in ZNet mistakenly named Francisco Aguirre instead of Sergio Garcia Quintero.