When Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was rumored to be gravely ill four years ago, his socialist government was tightlipped about the diagnosis. Then in June 2011 a source in Havana, Cuba, where Chávez was being treated, told Nelson Bocaranda, a veteran columnist for the Caracas daily El Universal, that the president had cancer.
To illustrate how the once-critical Caracas daily El Universal has cozied up to Venezuela’s socialist government in the wake of its sale in July, it helps to examine the newspaper’s coverage of the current oil price plunge.
At a bizarre news conference in April, Bolivia’s Communications Minister Amanda Dávila claimed that journalist Raúl Peñaranda, who was born in Chile, represented a dangerous “beachhead” for Chilean interests trying to deny landlocked Bolivia access to the Pacific.
Amid skyrocketing inflation and shortages of basic goods, Venezuelan authorities claim that an “economic war” is being waged against the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro. The government is striking back by forcing stores to discount prices, by arresting business owners accused of hoarding–and by targeting journalists trying to cover the grim economic news.