A reporter for the state-run television channel Venezuelan Television (VTC) referred to the country’s leadership as a “dictatorship,” in a seemingly rare moment of honesty from the pro-government network.
“You were just listening to the constitutional lawyer Hernann Escarrá, who rejects the proposal of the Venezuelan opposition to hold a referendum, in what he has described as an attack on the Venezuelan dictatorship,” journalist Enny Ángel said.
Ángel used the term as she tried to explain that Escarrá opposed a move by the Venezuelan opposition to force a democratic vote, in an attempt to remove the socialist government. Escarrá apparently argued that a referendum would be unconstitutional and violate the rights of the Venezuelan government, as dictator Nicolás Maduro has planned a vote during the same month to organize an assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution.
The state-run television channel is known for its pro-government propaganda, regularly failing to report the scale of anti-government opposition, describing opposition protesters as members of “fascist right,” and window-dressing figures pertaining to Venezuela’s dire economic situation.
It has also become known for some of its bizarre coverage, which includes its flagship show, Sundays with Maduro, where the President has regularly danced on live television.
Some headlines from the channel’s website include: “Operation Cambalache Replaces 500 Air Conditioners,” “Great New Neighborhood Tricolor Mission Repairs 432,630 Homes,” and “VTV Workers Continue Struggle for the Revolution Against Threats from the Fascist Right.”
Since the rule of Hugo Chávez, freedom of the press became stifled as the government sought to cement their authority. By 2009, at least 34 private radio stations had been shutdown, and repeatedly tried to pull the opposition television station Globovision off air through intimidation of its employees.
In June, snipers and armored tanks were placed around the channel’s headquarters in Caracas, as student groups and opposition leaders demanded an end to its fake news monopoly.
“We demand VTV show the reality, that they have ethics and show solidarity with those killed,” Rafaela Requesens, president of the FCU-UCV Federation of University Centers, told reporters at the protest.
Daily protests have been taking place in Venezuela since April as people call for fresh elections amid the country’s social, political and economic crisis. So far, at least 74 people have died as a result of the protests, as police up their brutality with the use of water cannons and rubber bullets.