||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (April 2012)|
Bolivarian propaganda describes messages and pictures used to influence the behaviors and opinions of the Venezuelan people and promote Hugo Chávez's version of a 21st-century Bolivarian Revolution. The World Politics Review said, "As Chávez pushes on with transforming Venezuela into a socialist state, government propaganda plays an important role in maintaining and mobilizing government supporters ..."; the image of Chávez is seen on sides of buildings, on t-shirts, on ambulances, on official Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) billboards, and as action figures. A 2011 New York Times article says Venezuela has an "expanding state propaganda complex". The Boston Globe described Chávez as "a media savvy, forward-thinking propagandist [who] has the oil wealth to influence public opinion".
The term Bolivarian Revolution denotes a new system of government, which strays from U.S. promoted representative democracy and capitalism, based on Simón Bolívar's vision of a unified South America led by a "strong but compassionate caudillo". The caudillo is responsible for transforming the military into the armed part of the nationalist revolution and enlisting the poor as its support base. As opposed to a representative democracy, a "participatory democracy" (or a populist government supporting a socialist economic system), has become the foundation of the Hugo Chávez administration. Under the Bolivarian Revolution, Chávez created Plan Bolívar to implement a strategy to improve welfare conditions for the poor and designed to integrate the Venezuelan troops into the Bolivarian Revolution. A propaganda program has been established to accomplish "participatory democracy", to strengthen his political position, and to strengthen his power base.
Brian A. Nelson says in The Silence and the Scorpion that opposition to Chávez was "born [when] a group of mothers realized that their children's new textbooks were really Cuban schoolbooks heavily infused with revolutionary propaganda". According to Nichols and Morse in the book Venezuela (Latin America in Focus), the "Bolivarian curriculum" that was instituted to reflect Chávez's goals was against a 1980 law that prohibited political propaganda in schools.
According to Douglas Schoen, in The Threat Closer to Home, Chávez has promoted his populist message via programs and legislation including an alleged loyal chavista branch of bishops in the Catholic Church, closing RCTV, and altering laws to require citizens to report disloyal citizens. Gustavo Coronel, writing in Human Events, said that Chávez has a costly and "intense propaganda machine" operating via the Venezuelan Embassy in the United States. A 2005 Citgo program to donate heating oil to poor household in the United States was criticized as a propaganda stunt.
In the media
According to the BBC, US politicians have said TeleSUR is a propaganda tool for Chávez. Villa del Cine, a state-owned film and television studio started in 2006, has also been criticized as a "propaganda factory", according to Nichols and Morse and independent film makers. Chávez said that Villa del Cine would help break the "dictatorship of Hollywood".
The Chávez government has been accused by Human Rights Watch of abusing its control over broadcasting frequencies, where they can punish radio and television stations that are thought to broadcast anti-Chavista programming. A new media law promotes self-censorship within most of the opposition media. Through the use of propaganda, Chavez has continually verbalized his successes on television which has resulted in a large popular base of support.
According to Michael Kraft, writing in the Charlotte Conservative, Bolivarian propaganda has been disseminated in Venezuela and abroad. The state is in charge of all public television stations and public radio stations, including Radio Nacional de Venezuela the only radio station with full national coverage. According to the Associated Press, opposition candidate María Corina Machado "complained about what she called a government-orchestrated propaganda machine that churns out spots ridiculing Chavez's critics, runs talk shows dominated by ruling party hopefuls and picks up all of the president's speeches".
In 1999, Chávez began to promote his revolution through print media, mostly in local newspapers like Barreto’s Correo del Presidente, focusing the messages on the transformation of Venezuela into a first world nation within ten years. He used cadenas (obligatory televised transmission, often taking over regular programming for hours) that became an effective weapon to fight criticism by running continuously to all audiences both in urban and rural sections of Venezuela. In 2001, he transformed Aló Presidente from a radio show to a full-fledged live, unscripted, television show running all hours of the day promoting the Bolivarian Revolution, blaming the Venezuelan economic problems on its northern neighbor, the United States as a "mass-market soapbox for the policies and musings" of Chávez, who the Boston Globe described as "a media savvy, forward-thinking propagandist [who] has the oil wealth to influence public opinion". The show airs every Sunday, depicts Chavez (wearing red, the color of the revolution) as the charismatic leader, passionate about the well being of his country. Many Venezuelan's tune in because Mr. Chavez is known for unveiling new financial assistance packages every weekend. Since 1999, President Chavez has spent an average 40 hours a week on television promoting his "Bolivarian Revolution".
In 2005, the new Law of Social Responsibility modified the penal code to simplify ways people could sue for opinions emitted against them, resulting in limits on political talk shows and self-censorship of the press (Law of Social Responsibility 2005). Privately owned RCTV was closed in 2007 when thee administration did not renew their broadcasting license. Globovisión, the last television channel to avoid government criticism, faced a $2.1 million fine on October 2011 for an alleged violation of the broadcasting statute. Pro-Chávista ideals infiltrate radio stations, local and cable television channels, newspapers, the internet, and public buildings (with murals).
Bolivarian propaganda uses emotional arguments to gain attention, exploit the fears (either real or imagined) of the population, create external enemies for scapegoat purposes, and produce nationalism within the population, causing feelings of betrayal for support of the opposition. The images and messages promote ideological mobilization, including Chávez as a "liberator", the positive effects of the Bolivarian Revolution (including social reforms), and power deriving from the people. The overall goal of the Bolivarian propaganda machine is to reflect society's wants and goals for an improved Venezuela.
The Bolivarian Revolution is advertised through all outlets: TV, radio, Internet (with websites like the Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign), magazines (like Viva Venezuela), newspapers, murals, billboards, memorabilia (action figures, t-shirts, posters), schools (through the lesson plans and books), movies, symphonies (Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar), festivals, and public service vehicles (like buses and ambulances). The face of Chávez is everywhere, portraying similarities to Simón Bolívar; the typical images that accompany the pro-socialist messages are the Bolshevik red star, Che Guevara portraits, Simón Bolívar portraits, red barrettes, Venezuelan flags, evil Uncle Sam, Uncle Sam as a snake, and Chávez with the superman logo.
- Manwaring (2005), pp. 8–13.
- Moloney, Anastasia (29 January 2007). "Photo Feature: Chavez's Propaganda". World Politics Review. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- Grant, Will (November 23, 2010). "Venezuela bans unauthorised use of Hugo Chavez's image". BBC News. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- Romero, Simon (February 4, 2011). "In Venezuela, an American Has the President's Ear". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- Lakshmanan, Indira (27 July 2005). "Channeling his energies Venezuelans riveted by president's TV show". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Manwaring (2005), p. 8.
- McCaughan (2005), p. 89.
- McCaughan (2005), p. 107.
- Manwaring (2005), p. 10.
- Nelson (2009), p. 5.
- Nichols and Morse (2010), p. 230.
- Schoen (2009), p. 154.
- Schoen (2009), p. 156.
- Coronel, Gustavo (August 15, 2007). "Misreading Venezuela". Human Events. Cato Institute. Retrieved April 26, 2012. "The intense propaganda machine installed by Chavez in the U.S. (that costs the Venezuelan Embassy well over a million dollars per year) is trying to sell U.S. public opinion on the idea that Hugo Chavez is universally loved by Venezuelans while the United States is bitterly hated."
- "Venezuela resumes fuel aid to US". BBC News. January 8, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2012. "Venezuela will continue to donate heating oil to some 200,000 low-income US households, reversing a decision to suspend supplies, officials say. ... When the scheme began four years ago, critics decried it as a propaganda stunt by President Chavez, aimed at annoying the Bush administration, and criticised Mr Kennedy for taking part."
- "Chavez bid to counter Hollywood". BBC News. June 4, 2006. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- Sreeharsha, Vinod (November 22, 2005). "Telesur tested by Chávez video". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved April 26, 2012. "These clips bolster critics who claim the network is and will be a propaganda tool for Chávez."
- Nichols and Morse (2010), p. 326.
- Ingham, James (November 1, 2007). "Venezuelan cinema, Chávez style". BBC News. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- "World Report 2012: Venezuela". The Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Manwaring (2005), p. 12.
- [unreliable source?] Kraft, Michael (24 July 2007). "Chavez Propaganda Machine". Charlotte Conservative. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- Bogardus, Kevin (September 22, 2004). "Venezuela Head Polishes Image With Oil Dollars: President Hugo Chavez takes his case to America's streets". Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- Toothaker, Christopher (September 19, 2010). "Chavez foes face obstacles ahead of crucial vote". The Seattle Times (Associated Press). Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- McCaughan (2005), p. 98.
- McCaughan (2005), p. 196.
- McCaughan (2005), p. 95.
- Carroll, Rory (23 May 2007). "Chavez silences critical TV station - and robs the people of their soaps". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- Manwaring (2005), p. 11.
- Turner (2007), p. 14.
- Manwaring, Max G. (2005). "Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, Bolivarian socialism, and asymmetric warfare" (PDF). The Strategic Studies Institute.
- McCaughan, Michael (2005). The Battle of Venezuela. New York: Seven Stories Press. ISBN 978-1-58322-680-3.
- Nelson, Brian A. (2009). The Silence and the Scorpion. Nation Books. ISBN 978-1-56858-418-8. "It was in response to this 'Cubanization' that the opposition movement against Chavez was born: A group of mothers realized that their children's new textbooks were really Cuban schoolbooks heavily infused with revolutionary propaganda, with new covers."
- Nichols, Elizabeth Gackstetter and Kimberly J. Morse (2010). Venezuela (Latin America in Focus). ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-59884-569-3.
- Schoen, Douglas (2009). The Threat Closer to Home. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-1-4165-9477-2.
- Turner, Andrew (2007). Propaganda in Havana: The Politics of Public Space and Collective Memory in the Socialist City. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.
- "Chavez in driver's seat as he silences his critics". The New Zealand Herald (via LexisNexis). 10 March 2010.
- "Controversial media-law changes approved in Venezuela". CNN. December 10, 2010.
- Lopez, Fernanda (October 11, 2007). "The Danger of Chavez’s Rhetoric". The Yale Globalist. Retrieved April 26, 2012. "As long as Chávez’s propaganda pits poor against rich, he threatens the nation with an identity crisis that propaganda alone cannot solve."