In her latest Empire Files episode, acclaimed journalist Abby Martin exposes the media bias behind “distorted” depictions of Venezuela’s food and political crisis.
As part of the episode “Abby Martin in Venezuela – Supermarkets to Black Markets,” Martin enters local grocery stores, big and small, with hidden cameras to see if they are completely out of stock — as they are commonly depicted by mainstream media.
She notes, “We just went to five different supermarkets and the shelves were fully stocked. And this is all type of neighborhoods, all types of classes. From Nestle chocolates to coco cola products, fish, meat, vegetables and fruits.”
Speaking with Venezuelan economist Pascualina Curzio, Martin discovers that while there are food shortages in Venezuela, these are a product of an “economic war.”
“We cannot call it a generalized economic crisis, it’s an economic war,” Curzio tells Martin.
“In the past four years, Venezuela’s per capita has been 9 percent higher compared to the per capita in the last 30 years. The unemployment rate is 6.6 percent. So we can’t call it a generalized economic crisis,” Pascalina adds.
“What we see is that there are several aggressions, focused on affecting the entire population and it has to do with market manipulation and of the economy as a whole.”
Talking about some of the missing items from the stores’ shelves, such as toilet paper, oil, flowers — products that have “high consumption and are under the control of huge monopolies” — Curzio explains: “There is a difference between the economic crisis and the economic warfare. These products are very particular, and they have very specific characteristics. These are responsible for food lines and even illegal markets due to the scarcity being caused.”
For instance, one of the main Bolivar exchange rate websites, called Dollar Today, that offers six times the legal exchange rate of the Venezuelan Bolivars per U.S. dollar, is run by a right-wing former Venezuelan colonel who moved to the U.S. after leading a failed coup to overthrow Chavez.
As Martin continues her investigation, she also discovers that there is still huge support for the Venezuelan government — despite what mainstream media reports.
She traverses through the Venezuelan crowds that are marching for President Maduro’s government to continue working for the people and is told by one protester: “Oligarchs, listen to this! Always, Always, Hugo Rafael Frias will be in our hearts!” in reference to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
Walking through the sea of government supporters, Martin finds no evidence of the mainstream media narrative of government suppression.
“I found that the depiction of a widely hated government was a distortion.” and in the process, millions of pro-government voices are being suppressed,” says Martin.
The mainstream media has been depicting that the press is under the government control and has no autonomy. Martin picked up some seven major newspapers from a local newsstand, out of which four were anti-government, a sign of the media bias against Venezuela.
Driven by the Global Capitalist Economy, an Era of ‘Biological Annihilation’ Has Arrived
According to the first global analysis of its kind, animal populations and biodiversity are precipitously declining in a crisis of mass extinction far more severe than previously thought. The continuation of current trends, according to researchers, raise the possibility that three-quarters of all species may disappear in coming centuries in a mass extinction event, the sixth of its kind the planet has experienced.
Such a massive-scale catastrophe hasn’t been seen since three-quarters of life on Earth, including the non-avian dinosaurs, were wiped out 66 million years ago by a giant meteor impact. As much as half of the number of animals that once shared our planet are no longer here, a loss the authors described as “a massive erosion of the greatest biological diversity in the history of Earth.”
“This is the case of a biological annihilation occurring globally,” said Stanford Professor Rodolfo Dirzo, co-author of a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Within only 25 years – from 1990 to 2015 – 27,600 species of animals have dwindled in range and population, including 177 types of mammals.
The main drivers of wildlife decline are pollution, disease, habitat loss, overconsumption and invasive species.
Each of these factors are exacerbated, if not driven, by human activities centered around a global economic system that treats nature – water, land, air, food and energy resources – as inputs for private production and profit accumulation. The toxic byproducts from the widespread use of hydrocarbons, heavy metals, rare earth minerals and agro-industrial chemicals are typically a burden borne by the public sphere, impacting humans lacking land rights and animal populations alike.
Likewise, climatic conditions on the planet have severely impacted tropical regions, which have witnessed the highest numbers of declining species. Deforestation for agriculture purposes has led to a situation where 37% of the Earth’s land surface is used for farmland and pasture, according to the World Bank, while land degradation has fueled the desertification of vast areas in once-biodiverse regions across the globe.
Forty percent of mammals are surviving on 20 percent or less of the land they once roamed, while 30 percent of the planet’s vertebrates are declining in both range and population – with about two species with a backbone simply disappearing annually. In recent years biodiversity as a whole has rapidly decreased, the study found.
“Several species of mammals that were relatively safe one or two decades ago are now endangered,” including cheetahs, lions and giraffes, it said.
The study underscores the dangers posed by the crisis-ridden global capitalist system, which is mired in distributional conflicts, poor or insufficient environmental management measures, and other political-economic factors that ensure a continuation of ecological devastation and “biological annihilation” in the near future.