Sunday, July 26, 2009

Repression, death, and media blackouts

Armed Police Infiltrate Funeral of Murdered Zelaya Supporter, Human Rights Abuses Mount in Desperate Attempt to Repress Popular Uprising by Laura Carlson at AmericasMexico Blog.

As I am listening to the live transmission of the funeral over Radio Globo, the scene turns from somber to mayhem. The Radio Globo reporter at the funeral begins to run from the scene. The crowd has identified and captured armed police infiltrators, interrupting the burial. The fear in the voices is palpable. Radio Globo is calling for people to avoid violence despite the pain and rage, to deliver the police to justice. They report that a third police infiltrator has been captured. All you can hear is shouting as some seek to attack the infiltrators. Rafael Alegria exhorts the crowd, "Our movement is peaceful... Do not attack them. We are going to remove them and deliver them to justice."

The police infiltrators have been taken into custody and disarmed. Alegria gives the names and says that the police are from the Direction of Criminal Investigations. "Who would send them into a burial when the people are already indignant..?", he says. "Our movement has proved that it is completely peaceful. We are protecting them so the people will not mistreat them even though we do not receive this treatment. This is a humane movement."

Alegria continues. "This is a direct provocation of the movement... We don't want any kind of confrontation."

Listening to the direct transmission is one of the moving experiences I have heard. The reporters and interviewees are out of breath, and the calm voice of Rafael Alegria comes across, controlling the situation. Imagine the scene to get an idea of what this movement has accomplished at this very moment--in the burial service of a murdered countryman, they are forced to flee, leaving the coffin unburied, when armed police infiltrators are discovered. There is clear potential for a lynching. And it is controlled by experienced, committed, non-violent leaders that have the full respect of the people.

There are reports of two more demonstrators killed in Honduras by the police and military supporting the coup. Now, remember when the Iranians killed a protester? Remember how her face and name were all over the American corporate media? So, after reading stories of how Zelaya has attempted to return, how protesters have been flooding the southern parts of the country to greet and support him, how the military has tried to lock down that whole part of the country, leaving protesters stranded on the roads, how two more protesters are reported dead, I thought I'd go visit's front page to see how they were covering the story.

The big front page story there is on Sarah Palin's last speech as governor of Alaska. Wow, that's a story that's really important. Just below that as the next biggest type on the page is a story about how wonderful it is to visit Israel as a tourist. Among the smaller links to the right, there are two stories about opposition to Ahmadinejad in Iran, as well as another story on Israel about how Israelis are protesting Arab construction in Israel (you didn't think they'd cover Arab opposition to expanding settlement and wall construction, did you?).

Not a word about the dramatic events in Honduras anywhere I can see on CNN's front page.

Its important to note how the media in America manipulates popular preception of events around the world. Which events get publicized and promoted, and which events get blacked-out and ignored.

This is important because this media manipulation of public perception is a key component of how a system where the government doesn't follow the wishes of its citizens keeps power amongst the perception that the country is a democracy. If most of the citizens don't know the US is supporting a military coup in Honduras, then there is little popular outcry against a supposedly democratic government taking awful actions that undermine and destroy democracy in other countries.

The day the American citizens learn to pay absolutely no attention to CNN and the like, then that's a day that we've taken a big step forward towards once again becoming a country with a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

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