Source: Sputnik Mundo
What it’s about: In an in-depth article, Sputnik offers “proof of the U.S.’s aggressive policy towards Venezuela and its violations of the country’s sovereignty that affect areas such as the economy, international relations and national security”. The investigation is based on a report issued by Venezuela’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May 2018 that offers a detailed account of the U.S.’s intent to overthrow the Maduro regime. Pieces of evidence that “prove” the U.S.’s aggressive stance towards Venezuela include clips from statements made by current and former U.S. government officials, including Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Marco Rubio, Rex Tillerson, and Barack Obama. The article also includes a bulleted-list on the nature of U.S. sanctions and how they affect Venezuela.
What’s misleading about it: This article is misleading because it suggests to the reader that the U.S. has been trying to overthrow the government in Venezuela since 2002 when George W. Bush’s administration was linked with a coup attempt in the early years of Hugo Chávez’s presidency. Overall, the article’s language is explicit and often uses phrases such as “regime change” and “aggression” to characterize U.S. posture towards Venezuela in recent decades. It also takes sections from statements made by U.S. officials and uses the excerpts out of context to support certain points. For example, the article includes remarks made by President Trump in August 2017 in which he said he would not rule out a “military option” to quell the chaos in Venezuela and then follows with a statement made by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in February 2018 on the possibility of a Venezuelan military ouster of Maduro. Both of these statements support the article’s claim that the U.S. is considering a military intervention even though Tillerson’s comments were on the possibility of a scenario in which the Venezuelan military takes action against Maduro. Whether or not the U.S. could play a role in that scenario is another issue.
The article also describes the details behind U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, stating that the sanctions “deprive the country from access to basic goods like food and medicine” and impede government institutions as well as “private companies” from accessing accounts and completing international transactions. While these statements are partly accurate, they suggest to the reader that U.S. sanctions have barred all companies in Venezuela from engaging in international transactions, when in reality the sanctions strictly apply to government institutions and individuals that are linked human rights violations and other illicit activities. For example, although the U.S. has taken action against Venezuela’s PDVSA, the sanctions do not place direct penalties on Venezuela’s oil sector or bar U.S. companies or citizens from doing oil-related business with Venezuela. The article calls out Citibank for refusing to clear a transaction by Venezuela’s government for 300,000 doses of insulin in 2017, although there are no reliable public sources to support the claim. Again, although the article’s coverage on U.S. sanctions is not blatantly false, it suggests to the reader that the sanctions—instead of the actions of the Maduro regime—are largely to blame for the country’s current humanitarian and economic crises.