MIAMI — Jorge Ramos, veteran journalist for the Univision network, was welcomed back to the U.S. with open arms by the establishment press corp following his three-hour detention during a Trump administration-approved journalistic excursion in Venezuela complete with an interview with President Nicolas Maduro.
Upon his return to the U.S., Ramos took to the opinion section of the New York Times to declare that Maduro had earned his title as a dictator for infringing on his reporting.
Ramos is no small fish and hardly wet behind the ears: he has been with Univision since 1984. Today, Univision is the largest Spanish-language media company in the United States and is estimated to reach nearly 60 percent of all U.S. households. On the board of directors is Israeli-American media mega-financier Haim Saban, who also serves as Univision’s director of communications. In 2007, Saban organized a network of financiers to bail out the debt-ridden network.
According to Ramos: “Maduro ordered his security agents to confiscate my team’s four cameras and other equipment and the video cards on which we had recorded the conversation.”
Ramos boasts of his feats in the New York Times: “The first question I asked Mr. Maduro was whether I should call him ‘Presidente’ or ‘Dictador,’ as many Venezuelans do.”
Per his account, Ramos grilled Maduro on alleged humanitarian issues in the country. The narrative continues:
The day before, I had recorded on my cellphone three young men looking for food on the back of a garbage truck in a poor neighborhood minutes away from the presidential palace. I showed those images to Mr. Maduro. Each frame contradicted his narrative of a prosperous and progressive Venezuela 20 years after the revolution.
In this tale of dauntless journalistic triumph, it is at this point that Ramos says his line of inquiry “broke” the longtime leader Maduro — who served for a time as vice president to revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez. “About 17 minutes into the interview, Mr. Maduro stood up, comically tried to block the images on my iPad and declared that the interview was over,” Ramos writes.
“That’s what dictators do,” our self-satisfied narrator assures us he informed Maduro.
Per Ramos’ account, Maduro then ordered his equipment confiscated. Ramos openly admits in the New York Times that his colleague, María Martínez, called Univision News’ president, Daniel Coronel, who called the State Department and “many news organizations.”
Despite having backers like the U.S. State Department — which, in the event of the abuse of a journalist like Ramos, may presumably make a phone call to the CIA or Defense Department — Ramos tells us he was “concerned” about being taken to “a detention center or an even darker place.” After all, this is the “dictator” Maduro we are talking about.
Ramos claims that his belongings were confiscated and his phone was wiped. “Our cameras and the records of our interview remained behind,” Ramos says. The “government’s intelligence agency cordoned off the hotel so we couldn’t leave,” he adds, but gives few further details. Miraculously, and conveniently for Ramos’ story, the footage that allegedly enraged Maduro survived.
After touching back down in Miami, Ramos tweeted:
I really want to thank the U.S. State Department and the American Embassy in Caracas for making sure that we were protected and safe in Venezuela. Their help was instrumental in our safe departure today from Caracas after being detained yesterday by the Maduro regime.”
Our intrepid reporter gets a taste of his own medicine
By then, reports of Ramos’ heroics had already made international headlines.
In Miami, journalist Max Blumenthal asked Ramos a simple enough question about a tweet from Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of the main architects of the U.S. support for the coup attempt in Venezuela.
Good plan Marco pic.twitter.com/G7stKSZgpK
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) February 24, 2019
Because Rubio is so heavily involved in U.S. policy on Venezuela, that tweet was widely seen as a threat to assassinate Maduro because it invoked the U.S.-backed regime-change operation in Libya. Rubio’s tweet showed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi when he was sodomized to death with a bayonet by NATO-backed, so-called moderate rebels. The U.S.-NATO “humanitarian intervention” has had disastrous consequences for the country, which was once the wealthiest in Africa, with black migrants being sold as slaves through a burgeoning black market that has flourished since the government was toppled.
“I just asked Jorge Ramos if now that he’s back in Miami he had any plans to confront Marco Rubio for calling for the killing of Nicolas Maduro,” Blumenthal tweeted.
Blumenthal told MintPress:
[Ramos was] surrounded by a gaggle of fawning press as he talked about his three-hour detention at Miraflores Palace by the guards of Nicolas Maduro after he engineered a confrontation with Maduro about people digging through trash in Caracas, as if that doesn’t happen minutes from the White House — I’ve actually seen it many times.”
After nearly 15 minutes of light questioning during the live-stream, Ramos found himself on the receiving end of a ruthless inquiry, much like the one he says he lobbed at Maduro.
Blumenthal fired off a series of tough questions:
Do you have any plans to confront Marco Rubio about his threats to kill Nicolas Maduro? … Any plans to confront Marco Rubio about his threats of military invasion or to confront Donald Trump about the sanctions on Venezuela.”
Ramos, ignoring the questions but perhaps sensing the gravity of the line of inquiry, responded with a candid admission.
What I can tell you is that many people here in the United States supporting [sic] what we were doing, and that Marco Rubio, Vice President [Mike] Pence, and many others were supporting what we were doing over there.”
When Blumenthal wondered whether Ramos was acting on their behalf, Ramos responded guardedly, listing off his reporting credentials and mischaracterizing himself as an “independent journalist.” Much as he did in his New York Times editorial, Ramos centered the narrative on his accolades. With a wide-eyed gaze into Blumenthal’s cellphone camera, Ramos cited a viral confrontation he had with candidate Trump in 2015 and asked Blumenthal, “Do you remember what happened with Donald Trump?”
I just asked Jorge Ramos if Now that he’s back in Miami, he had any plans to confront Marco Rubio for calling for the killing of Nicolas Maduro. He boasted that Mike Pence supported what he did in Venezuela and refused to answer the question. pic.twitter.com/fjJxW1W7xH
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) February 26, 2019
A regime-change proxy who ‘holds truth to power’
Of course, citing one’s opposition to Trump has become a go-to defense for pro-war propagandists; by centering Trump as the fountainhead of injustice, humanitarian interventionists find cover for their right-wing foreign policy agenda. As Blumenthal told MintPress:
Ramos boasted that Rubio and Pence supported what he did in Venezuela then suddenly pivoted to his 2015 confrontation with Trump, where he was tossed from a press conference for asking a question without being called on. He was clearly proud of acting as a proxy of Rubio and Pence, but sought to flash his adversarial creds by invoking his stunt with Trump. It came off as a desperate deflection from questions he couldn’t address.”
Blumenthal told MintPress News that Ramos owned up to not being “such an independent journalist after all” and, in fact, “actually a proxy of the U.S. regime-change machine,” in Blumenthal’s estimation. He told MintPress:
There are few better exchanges than the one that I just had with Jorge Ramos to demonstrate the role that corporate media is playing in Latin America in pushing for the re-colonization of countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua, and supplying the mood music for regime change.”
While Ramos’ true relationship with empire remains unclear, his admission continues a legacy of the U.S. government working “reporters” as useful stooges — the most famous example of which is the CIA’s “Operation Mockingbird” program. After veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh broke the story of a CIA program that spied on American anti-Vietnam War activists, Congress investigated the agency, finding that under the Mockingbird program domestically “approximately 50 of the [CIA’s] assets are individual American journalists or employees of U.S. media organizations.”. Internationally:
The CIA … maintain[ed] a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets.”
Like the reporters who wittingly and unwittingly took stories from the CIA under Mockingbird, the U.S. government’s support for Ramos’ oppositional reporting serves as a propaganda cudgel against a country in which the U.S. is currently attempting a regime change. Compounded with Univision’s dominance in the Spanish-American media landscape, Ramos’ stunt in Venezuela furthers the interests of Pence, Rubio and their coup cohorts. And, like his confrontation with Trump, it will give Ramos a story to deflect to the next time he is challenged.
Top Photo | Univision’s Jorge Ramos shows a video he says his crew shot the previous day showing Venezuelan youth picking food scraps out of the back of a garbage truck in Caracas, during an interview at a hotel in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 25, 2019. According to Ramos, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cut short an interview when he showed Maduro the same footage during the interview at Miraflores presidential palace, before leaving two hours later without having his crew’s equipment returned. Photo | AP
Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.