Venezuela Protests: 13 Deaths, But Where's The Press?

As protests against Nicolas Maduro become violent, many in Venezuela are lamenting the lack of international media coverage.

Venezuela Protests: 13 Deaths, But Where's The Press?
Wikimedia Commons / Wilfredor

The death toll in Venezuela's anti-government protests rose to 13 Monday, and the demonstrations show no sign of ending any time soon.

Anti-government protesters opposed to the rule of the country's socialist leader Nicolas Maduro formed crude barricades and blocked traffic in the capital of Caracas Monday. (Via BBC)

The problems with Maduro's government are well-documented: Venezuela faces a shortage of basic goods, 56 percent inflation rate, and 25,000 murders in the last year alone. An El Pais writer christened the country "the world champion in inflation, killings, civilian insecurity and the shortages of necessary goods." (Via CNN)

And protests have been spurred on by the public arrest of popular opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been charged with inciting violence. The remaining opposition leaders, including former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, recently rejected an offer to meet with Maduro to resolve the crisis. (Via Channel 4, Globovision)

But as Venezuela's protests continue to escalate, there's one party missing from the crisis — the Western media.

After a particularly brutal night of government crackdowns, one writer for the Caracas Chronicles scanned major news outlets like The New York Times and CNN for a reaction piece, and came up empty. "It's hard to express the sense of helplessness you get looking through these pages and finding nothing. Venezuela burns; nobody cares."

A guest writer at Voxxi performed a similar census of broadcast TV coverage, with similarly disappointing results. "Could it be those making the decision on what to report are biased or simply feel that a country in South America ... is simply unimportant?"

In fairness, some of the silence might be due to Maduro's hostility towards the press. The leader recently revoked the press passes of some CNN journalists, though he later reversed that decision. (Via Mediaite)

But it's also possible that our attention has been riveted to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, where anti-government protests escalated into violent revolt and a government overthrow over the course of a few short weeks. (Via Euronews)

A writer for The Washington Post wonders if Western audiences have been too preoccupied with Ukraine's troubles to notice Venezuela's crisis. "The worrying conclusion here is that perhaps American appetite for international news is a zero-sum game: Ukraine is simply taking up too much attention for Venezuela to make headlines."

But a Financial Times writer points out while Ukraine's troubles have hit a climax over the past week, Venezuela's crisis is still in its early stages.

"The crisis in Venezuela​ has not reached a tipping point. That is unlikely to happen unless Mr Maduro's traditional support base starts to join the opposition. In the meantime, the fact that many of the issues that started the protests ... remain largely un-addressed suggests that the worst may be yet to come.​"

Protests against Maduro's government began in early February, and turned violent Feb. 13 when three protesters were killed in clashes with pro-government gunmen.