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Political Climate of Mexico

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Simi Ogunnaike

POLS 111 – 003

Paper II

April 16, 2013


INTRODUCTION

        The media plays a very important role in shaping the people’s public opinion about the government in any state. Most individuals do not get to see and assess the government’s actions as soon as these actions are made. Instead, they form their views, feelings and sentiments based on what they observe on the news, read in newspapers and how they are able to interpret it. As said by Eric B. Royer – a lecturer at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, “The media can be a powerful watchdog against governmental oppression and inaction in a democracy; however, it can also play a negative role by distorting information through framing, selective coverage and reporting bias”.

        Just recently, I was going through my twitter timeline and I came across a rather hilarious tweet that highlighted media bias. It goes as follows: “Hmmn 666, 6+6+6=18, 18…Obama was once 18… very scary, not sure what this information means…brought to you by Fox News”. I found this hilarious because over the years, Fox News has been known to be predominantly inclined towards the Republican Party and Obama is a Democrat. As citizens, we have to be very critical of the various means by which we obtain information about the government and we should not limit ourselves to just one source because there will always be different sides to every story and a better judgment is made when the full story is known.

“THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED”

        A documentary titled “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” was made about the Venezuelan coup of April 11, 2002 that temporarily overthrew the then Venezuelan president – President Hugo Raphael Chavez.   This coup was led by an opposition group who felt that power should not be in the hands of people with no values and education. They felt the revolution (Hugo Chavez’ rise to power) was out-of-date and that he only wanted totalitarianism and communism. Chavez was an army officer who led a coup in 1992 against the government and he was later democratically elected by the people in 1999. Two years after his inauguration in February 1999 as Venezuela’s president, he was still hated by former traditional leaders. The opposition felt that President Chavez was a dictator and because he promised to redistribute wealth in Venezuela, the opposition (mostly made up of elites) feared that profits they usually made from the Oil Corporation would be stripped from them and so, they pressed for his impeachment.  However, President Chavez was backed up by the majority of Venezuelans – mostly the masses, who made up about 80% of the population. These masses were people who had previously known little or nothing about politics and had never voted before. They stood up for Chavez because they felt he promoted democracy, popular participation and public involvement in politics.

        The opposition was headed by Pedro Carmona – who was, at that time, the president of the largest business federation in Venezuela and Carlos Ortega – the head of a trade union that had very strong ties to the old traditional rulers of Venezuela.

On April 11, 2002, Pedro Carmona called for an opposition demonstration at the Venezuelan Oil Company. That same day, Chavez’s supporters also marched to the presidential palace. The opposition demonstrators then changed route and marched towards the presidential palace and this created tension between the two conflicting parties. A lot of chaos and shooting occurred when they met. Chavez was in his office with his ministers when the whole chaos was happening. The opposition took over the state’s TV channel (Channel 8), surrounded the presidential palace with tanks and threatened to bomb the place up if President Chavez refused to surrender and resign. This led to the violent and illegal overthrow of government.

On the morning of April 12, 2002, Carmona appeared on television and announced that Chavez had been put in prison and a new government had emerged. Carmona’s words were “This is not a military government, this is a new government blessed by the people”. He went on to say that “President Chavez must be tried according to the law not only for violating human rights, but for repressing freedom of expression”. Carmona was then sworn in as the new president. A new Attorney General was imposed on the people and there was a complete overthrow of the National Assembly, Supreme Court, Central Bank governor, Ombudsman, and the National Electoral Commission of Venezuela (How undemocratic!)

The masses – who made up a majority of the population, felt the coup was undemocratic and dictatorial. They had been previously encouraged by the Chavez administration to read and understand the letters of the constitution and they knew that the only lawful way to impeach the president (if he did not resign) was through a referendum.

On April 13, 2002, the people marched to and assembled at the presidential palace in protest to the unlawful installation of Carmona as their president. Chavez’ soldiers then plotted to retake the palace from the traditional rulers/opposition so they stationed themselves at strategic locations around the palace and waited for a convenient time to revolt against the newly imposed government. They held several newly installed government officials hostage. However, Carmona and a few others were able to get away.

Chavez’s ministers then returned to the presidential palace and Chavez later returned to Venezuela from the island he was being held hostage by the opposition and resumed his presidential duties and the people behind the coup were pardoned.

MEDIA’S INFLUENCE ON MY OPINIONS OF CHAVEZ

        Over the years, the United States government (when it was headed by President George Bush) has refused to be associated with or held responsible for the Venezuelan coup of 2002. Up till today, the American government continues to repudiate its involvement with and contribution to the coup. According to Christopher Clement in his article Confronting Hugo Chávez: United States "Democracy Promotion" in Latin America, “After the April 2002 coup in Venezuela, news reports and political commentary highlighted the United States’ long-standing displeasure with Hugo Chavez's leadership. Although the Bush administration denies involvement in the coup, it continues to provide advice and financial support to many of Chavez's opponents as what it considers “democracy promotion”. According to Ed Vulliamy (a UK columnist) in an article he wrote in The Guardian newspaper in 2002, “Now officials at the Organisation of American States and other diplomatic sources, talking to The Observer, assert that the US administration was not only aware the coup was about to take place, but had sanctioned it, presuming it to be destined for success”. The United States media was bombarding its audience with negative news feeds about Chavez because of its unhappiness with Chavez’s administration.  Paul Hughes of ABC wrote articles on Chavez depicting him as an ally for terrorism because of his visits to the Middle East against the United States wishes. In one of Hughes articles titled ‘Defying the US, Chavez Will Visit Iraq’, he writes “Chavez, who has also forged a close personal friendship with Cuban President Fidel Castro and commercial ties with China, recently referred to Saddam as a “brother”.  Other news headlines were ‘Chavez calls Bush ‘Asshole’ as foes fight Troops’, ‘Is Hugo Chavez 1000 Times Worse Than Beelzebub? Or Just 100 Times?’ and many similar to this. According to Nikolas Kozloff in his book ‘Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the U.S’, “In August 22, 2005, American evangelical minister Pat Robertson…went on to say that Chavez was a “terrific danger” to the United States and intended to become “the launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism”. However, in 2001, Chavez addressed the problem of terrorism while he was speaking on the Venezuelan state TV station – Channel 8. He was against America fighting terror with terror.

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