In her latest Empire Files episode, acclaimed journalist Abby Martin exposes the media bias behind "distorted" depictions of Venezuela's food and political crisis.
As part of the episode "Abby Martin in Venezuela - Supermarkets to Black Markets," Martin enters local grocery stores, big and small, with hidden cameras to see if they are completely out of stock — as they are commonly depicted by mainstream media.
She notes, "We just went to five different supermarkets and the shelves were fully stocked. And this is all type of neighborhoods, all types of classes. From Nestle chocolates to coco cola products, fish, meat, vegetables and fruits."
Speaking with Venezuelan economist Pascualina Curzio, Martin discovers that while there are food shortages in Venezuela, these are a product of an "economic war."
"We cannot call it a generalized economic crisis, it's an economic war," Curzio tells Martin.
"In the past four years, Venezuela's per capita has been 9 percent higher compared to the per capita in the last 30 years. The unemployment rate is 6.6 percent. So we can't call it a generalized economic crisis," Pascalina adds.
"What we see is that there are several aggressions, focused on affecting the entire population and it has to do with market manipulation and of the economy as a whole."
Talking about some of the missing items from the stores' shelves, such as toilet paper, oil, flowers — products that have "high consumption and are under the control of huge monopolies" — Curzio explains: "There is a difference between the economic crisis and the economic warfare. These products are very particular, and they have very specific characteristics. These are responsible for food lines and even illegal markets due to the scarcity being caused."
For instance, one of the main Bolivar exchange rate websites, called Dollar Today, that offers six times the legal exchange rate of the Venezuelan Bolivars per U.S. dollar, is run by a right-wing former Venezuelan colonel who moved to the U.S. after leading a failed coup to overthrow Chavez.
As Martin continues her investigation, she also discovers that there is still huge support for the Venezuelan government — despite what mainstream media reports.
She traverses through the Venezuelan crowds that are marching for President Maduro's government to continue working for the people and is told by one protester: "Oligarchs, listen to this! Always, Always, Hugo Rafael Frias will be in our hearts!" in reference to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
Walking through the sea of government supporters, Martin finds no evidence of the mainstream media narrative of government suppression.
"I found that the depiction of a widely hated government was a distortion." and in the process, millions of pro-government voices are being suppressed," says Martin.
The mainstream media has been depicting that the press is under the government control and has no autonomy. Martin picked up some seven major newspapers from a local newsstand, out of which four were anti-government, a sign of the media bias against Venezuela.