On Tuesday, April 1, a group of violent opposition protestors attacked the building of the Ministry of Housing, setting it on fire. Over 300 people had to be evacuated, including children from a nursery in the same building. You are not likely to have read about it in the mass media.
The arson attack, the fourth so far this year, against the building located in the opposition run Caracas municipality of Chacao, reveals the real nature of the Venezuelan protestors. Despite being described by the mass media as “peaceful” demonstrators, they are in fact highly violent in their methods and aims.
The mass media also presents the protestors as being concerned with social issues (crime, scarcity, inflation, etc). Why would they then attack the building of the Housing Ministry. The Housing Mission, run from the building of the Ministry, is one of the most recent social programs of the Bolivarian revolution. Starting with the aim of solving the housing problems of thousands of families who had been left homeless in the floods of November 2010, it then expanded its aims to providing decent housing to everyone who needed it.
So far, over 750.000 new homes have been built and delivered to families in need, either because they were homeless, or because they live in overcrowded or unsound housing. A large proportion of these new homes have been built with the direct participation of the communities involved, organised in their communal councils, which have had a say in deciding where the houses would be built, established a priority list of families in need and participated in the actual building of the houses. Most of these houses have been handed over free of charge and fully furnished, or in very favourable financing terms. Families who have received the houses are not able to sell them on, to prevent speculation.
The housing policy of the revolution has also enacted laws protecting tenants’ rights and a more recent decision of the Ministry allows for tenants who have been renting their apartments for over 20 years the right to buy them in favourable terms.
The attack against the Housing Ministry building therefore shows the real face of the opposition and their hatred of those policies which allow the poorest sections in society to benefit from the country’s oil wealth.
In the same way, the burning down of the UNEFA university in San Cristobal del Táchira by masked opposition thugs and the repeated arson attacks against Barrio Adentro diagnostic and health clinics (like this one in Barquisimeto), represent the opposition’s hatred of the Bolivarian revolution programs which have massively extended free health care and education to the working class and the poor.
It is indeed a revolt of the rich against the poor.
The mass media like to present a false picture of Venezuela as a country where freedom of the media no longer exists or is severely curtailed. The reaction of the media to the attack on the Ministry of Housing reveals that the opposite is true. One of the main Caracas based national newspapers, Ultimas Noticias, which likes to cultivate an image of being impartial and unbiased, first used a headline saying “Ministry of Housing building catches fire”, as if this had been some sort of mysterious self-combustion accident, and only after being denounced in the alternative media, it corrected itself and admitted that it had been “violent demonstrators” who “attacked it with Molotov cocktails”.
AP correspondent Hannah Dreier (previously AP gambling correspondent in Las Vegas), decided to make just a very passing mention to this incident in her article about Maria Corina Machado not being allowed in the National Assembly. In it she says: “Flames billowed out of the windows of the Ministry of Housing as young people threw rocks at police and ran from an armored truck with high-pressure water hoses they call "the whale."” Again, here we can see flames mysteriously “billowing” out of the windows, without any explanation of who set the fire. Despite being asked for a clarification, which she acknowledged, the article was not changed.