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Venezuelan Opposition Spreads Lies About U.S. Journalists, Inciting Violence, Death Threats

“For months, the right-wing opposition has been engaging in large, often bloody demonstrations. Protesters have lynched three Afro-Venezuelans, whom they accused of being “infiltrators”; two of the men were burned alive. Right-wing demonstrators have also set fire to government buildings and buses, and even thrown explosives and molotov cocktails at police.

In response, Venezuelan security forces have cracked down on the violent protests. Dozens of people have been killed, on both sides. Some academic experts have suggested that the opposition is intentionally provoking a violent response, in hopes of attracting international media attention.

Reporters Abby Martin and Mike Prysner, co-producers of the political television show The Empire Files, traveled to Venezuela in May to report on the ongoing violent protests, and to provide an independent perspective often ignored in Western corporate media outlets.

In the midst of these bloody protests, several influential voices in the Venezuelan opposition have circulated lies about Martin and Prysner, accusing them of being ‘spies’ for the country’s intelligence agencies, without presenting a modicum of evidence. They have also shared the journalists’ private information, and even appeared to have incited violence against them.

‘For doing my job –– for interviewing government officials, protesters at los guarimbas, average Venezuelans and peaceful marchers –– I am called a spy who should be killed by the same people called “peaceful freedom fighters” by Western press,’ Martin told AlterNet in an interview.

‘These unsuccessful attempts to intimidate us reveals how much they really fear accurate reporting that might undermine their narrative.’”

“Abby Martin voiced concern about the threats in an interview with AlterNet. ‘Based on our experiences on-the-ground in Venezuela, we are not surprised at the lynching threats from an opposition movement defined by violence and right-wing ideology,’ she said.

‘However, we are shocked that such an inciteful disinformation campaign would be spread by major media outlets, academics and other figures without question,’ Martin added.”

“Reflecting on her time in Venezuela, Martin said, ‘With the US government giving tens of millions of our tax dollars to regime change efforts in the country, open calls for US intervention and a corporate media promoting one-sided imperial propaganda, we felt it was imperative as US journalists to put ourselves in harm's way in order to get the truth from all sides of the conflict.’

‘Journalists working for state and left media in Venezuela are viciously attacked and threatened by the opposition on a regular basis,’ she told AlterNet. ‘With this recent incitement campaign, we fear for the lives of the teleSUR correspondents still in Caracas who heroically put their lives on the line every day and could be targeted as a result.’”

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