Venezuelan President Nicolas Madura on Friday reinstated the press credentials for three Spanish-speaking CNN reporters covering his country’s protests – a day after revoking them.
But he made it clear he doesn’t trust their objectivity.
In a bizarre, two-hour news conference broadcast live, the South American leader blamed the journalists for “calling for civil war, hatred and lying to the world about what is happening,” CNN reported.
Invoking the age-old political ploy of scapegoating, Madura accused CNN, Fox News and the U.S. State Department of fomenting opposition to his government.
“They do not talk about anything in Latin America except Venezuela,” he said. “This comes back to the owner. He sets the guidelines. And they work with the State Department and use the network to foment a pretend war among Venezuelans and to say there should be intervention.”
On Sunday, Madura, who once served as Hugo Chavez’s vice president, expelled three U.S. diplomats after accusing them of meeting with opposition leaders. On Thursday, he called the CNN reporters “fascists who with their aggressions want to take away our peace, [not] show the people working, studying, building the homeland.”
The following day, Madura reversed his position and returned their credentials, but publicly called on the international media to “rectify” its coverage. Meanwhile, civil demonstrators continued to protest widespread official corruption, shortages in basic foodstuffs and commodities, and appalling unsanitary conditions in Venezuela’s cities and towns.
In recent street clashes, eight people have died, reporters have been harassed and had their equipment robbed at gunpoint, and popular opposition leader Leopold Lopez was arrested and accused of arson and conspiracy.
Madura has invited President Obama to Caracas for talks aimed at resolving the two countries’ differences, claiming that U.S. conservatives and media organizations are plotting to overthrow his regime, BBC reported.
“This is not how responsible democracies behave,” Secretary of State John Kerry responded. “I call upon the Venezuelan government to step back from its efforts to stifle dissent through force and respect basic human rights.”
Venezuelan-Americans and their supporters staged rallies throughout South Florida on Saturday, protesting Madura’s heavy hand, with more rallies planned for Sunday, according to Miami-based WIOD Radio.
Ernesto Ackerman, president of the nonprofit group, Independent Venezuelan-American Citizens, said he expects pro-opposition demonstrations to take place all over the United States and the world.
Video from CNN: