Hugo Chavez Frias says CNN quoted him out of context and gently urges
Venezuelan CNN correspondents to “Please, tell the truth, if they let you"

(In a remarkable performance, Hugo Chavez Frias, President of Venezuela, challenged a report on CNN that Chavez had said that if the opposition had won the November 23 regional elections he would have called out the tanks. He spoke on the issue at a press conference attended by the world’s media, including CNN. A summary of his response may be found immediately below with a link to a video at the end. Although the video is in Spanish, it is a character study of Chavez that should be included in at least such disciplines as history, sociology, psychology, political science. The video enriches understanding as to why Chavez is able to play such a prominent role in the Western Hemisphere. I urge you to read the below then click the link for an intellectual feast, even if you don’t understand a word of Spanish, both his voice and body language are very revealing. By the way, male Spanish Americans include their mothers’ names. Therefore you have Fidel Castro Ruz and Hugo Chacvez Frias. Out of respect for this tradition, True North Perspective will take it into account on first reference whenever possible. — Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher.)

By Jesus Inojosa and Yvke Mundial

President Hugo Chavez Frias asked Patricia Janiot, a CNN correspondent and anchor of that channel, to confirm that he had never said that he "would bring tanks into the street" if the opposition won.

He was speaking at a press conference attended by the international media.

He also asked CNN journalist Glenda Omana to withdraw her report on Sunday that the Venezuelan government had ordered an ‘information prohibition' a week before the elections. He asked her to confirm that the government did not order any "information prohibition" in Venezuela.

President Chavez Frias, criticized the position taken by CNN in the days leading up to the regional elections of November 23.

At the press conference, Patricia Janiot, asked a question. Before responding to the question, the president ask her for an explanation of the accusation that she had made on CNN that Chavez "would bring the tanks into the street" if some of the opposition candidates won.

"That Chavez threatened to bring out the tanks! You saw it, Patricia, right?" Chavez asked Janiot.

The journalist confirmed it. "CNN said it?" Chavez asked.

The journalist confirmed it again and replied with something that couldn't be heard by those following the event on television. "You said it, but taking it out of context, which is one of the problems with you all! It was totally taken out of context."

Decontextualization describes the act of quoting or showing only a fragment of the declarations of a person, omitting the rest in order to make the onlookers believe that that person said something that in reality they didn't say.

"I know that you said it because I heard you, and it makes me sad," said the Venezuelan leader later to Janiot. The journalist responded, but her words weren't heard because there wasn't a microphone nearby.

"I think that you are a good journalist, and I believe that you are an honest woman, but I think that you are a victim of the speed that you all have there, of talking to the world and telling them things."

The journalist again responded with something that couldn't be heard, to which Chavez responded, "But you must take responsibility. In order to say something so serious as that, you should say ‘wait a minute, find the complete declaration for me' committed the serious error of decontextualization and of manipulation," which he classified as a "a serious error for a journalist."

He asked Janiot to clarify her words. "I ask you to clarify to the world, I ask you for this, if they let you." The journalist indicated that they would allow her to, to which Chavez responded, "If they indeed allow you to, Patricia, because you don't run CNN. Up to a certain point you are in charge, but they order you things."

Chavez reiterated again repeatedly that her words about the war tanks were taken out of context.

"What I said was that, in a situation where the opposition won state governor positions and tried to convert states into bases for coup plotting, violence and (separatism), well I would have to bring tanks into the street. I said it like that, Patricia, I ask it of you, in honour of the truth and morality. But I never threatened to bring out tanks if we lost."

"And you should know, if you already know me a little, that I'm incapable of doing something like that. I'm not some crazy person. A year ago, I lost a referendum for constitutional reform by 10 or 15,000 votes and I came out immediately to call the people to go home and accept defeat."

"I've been here for almost 10 years. I have won, I have lost state governments and local governments. And what I have done each time that there is an electoral process and some opposition party wins? What I do is I present them my hand and my good will to ask them to forget the craziness, to not allow themselves to be manipulated and to ride on paths of craziness and destabilization to fill the country with violence."

"Information prohibition"

Chavez also referred to another claim made by a journalist for CNN, Glenda Omana, who said on Sunday that the Venezuelan government had ordered an ‘information prohibition' a week before the elections.

Omana said on CNN, "We want to take advantage of this report to inform you that, under the order of the Venezuelan government, an information prohibition has been applied during the week prior to these elections, which prohibits the distribution of material promoting candidates and the results of polls and opinion surveys.

To this, Chavez said, "How can you (CNN) state something that you haven't investigated? It wasn't the government of Chavez who prohibited the distribution of political propaganda days before the elections. This is in the law and the Electoral Power stipulated this," Chavez explained. He continued, "But the intention is to make my government seem disrespectful and like a curtailer of political rights."

Janiot responded that the statements by Omana were rectified afterwards, but Chavez replied that the damage was already done.

Chavez asked Andres Izarra to give "Patricia (Janiot) all my telephone numbers, including my one, mine," and also the number of the minister of the presidential office, Hector Rodriguez, so that CNN can verify any information that it needs. "Lets see if CNN changes a little its evaluation, not about me but about this people, this country and this government, that deserve respect, and that they always disrespect."

And he brought tanks into the streets

Chavez said that on one occasion he did have to bring tanks out into the street, in November 2002, "I took the war tanks out straight away, in order to take the Caracas Metropolitan Police headquarters that were in the hands of the city mayor," he said.

"And what did I want to do as president? Cross my arms and allow those fascists to keep massacring a people?" he said.

In those days, there were continuous protests by Chavez sectors in Bolivar Plaza and its surroundings, which were repressed by the PM [Metropolitan Police] with lethal arms, leaving many dead. Active militia, but without soldiers, had taken Altamira Plaza in ‘legitimate disobedience' and it was rumoured that the city mayor, Alfredo Pena, who participated in the coup of April 2002, would use the 15,000 police for a new attempt at a coup d'état.

Currently, some 12 police of this police body are being tried for their participation in the coup of 2002. Videos and photos show them using lethal arms against a rally of Chavez supporters during the failed coup, in which 19 people died.

Chavez urged "that the new city mayor not go down the same path of that man who is now fleeing justice (Alfredo Pena) and who used the police force that he had in his hands, with war weapons, tanks and everything, to kill people in the streets."

Translated for by Tamara Pearson, video and original document available at

27 November 2008