[Media Watch] Rats and opposition newspapers

The world's media is again repeating the mantra about alleged "attacks on freedom of expression" in Venezuela. The truth however is that opposition media dominates the airwaves and newspaper stands. One particularly vicious example is TalCual. It stops at nothing to slander and vilify the Bolivarian government. This time, they called in a Paraguayan rat to help. Literally.

On its May 22 edition, the “newspaper” published a column with the headline “Senda rata” (which can be loosely translated as “What a rat”). It showed a picture of fairly sized rat looking at a piece of cheese in the food counter of a PDVAL shop (identified by the logo in the work uniform of the person working behind the counter). PDVAL is a state-run chain of subsidised price supermarkets which was created in an attempt to deal with the problems of inflation and scarcity. The article, which pretends to be ironic, says that this is proof that “under socialism, rats eat better” (see the article on its website)


There is one small problem. Neither the rat not the cheese are Venezuelan. In fact, the picture first appeared in the Paraguayan newspaper ABC in September 2012 denouncing bad hygiene in Supermercados Guaraní. In original picture the worker behind the counter clearly wears the logo of a famous Paraguayan chicken brand ”Pechugón.” Someone used picture editing software to remove it and replace it for the PDVAL logo. Then TalCual decided to publish it without any further checks. As the saying says “why let the facts get in the way of a good anti-Bolivarian story”.


This is of course not the first time that TalCual has used picture manipulation or libelous and slanderous front pages to attack the Bolivarian revolution and its leaders.

On April 18 it published a front page picture of president Maduro with a Hitler moustache and the headline “The home-grown face of fascism”.


On two previous occasions it had published frontpages comparing Hugo Chávez to Hitler.

talcualsaludofascista HeilHugo

On September 26th, 2003, published a front page picture showing Hugo Chavez holding a 9 mm handgun at a public rally with a headline saying "At gun point". The small problem was that what Chavez was really holding at that public rally was ... a rose, and the picture was in fact a photo-montage.

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The director of this rag which passes as a newspaper is Teodoro Petkoff, a former leftist who then became the minister responsible for privatisations in the Caldera government in the 1990s. On April 2002, he published a front page headline screaming “Chao Hugo” and an editorial in support of the coup which briefly removed Chávez from power.


Clearly, the problem in Venezuela is not one of attacks on the freedom of expression, but the fact that the oligarchy uses their ownership of most of the media to lie and slander the Bolivarian revolution and to agitate against the democratic will of the people.

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