A recent article by the Russian government’s international news network, RT, on Bolivian President Evo Morales exemplifies the network’s pattern of biased coverage of Latin America.
The piece discusses Morales’s allegations that the U.S. is sponsoring the protesters in Venezuela. He stated that the United States is “always going to sponsor internal conflict so that they can interfere and invade us to take control of our oil reserves.”
In the article, RT attempts to present support for Morales’s accusations while portraying Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro as a peaceful victim: “The Venezuelan government has recognized people’s right to demonstrate, but has accused foreign-backed, right-wing extremists of hijacking the protests in an attempt to oust Maduro.” This piece is in line with much of RT’s reporting on Latin America, which combines promotion of pro-Russian leaders with conspiratorial narratives that demonize the United States.
In order to understand why RT has decided to skew its coverage of Latin America, it is important to realize that Russia is actively expanding its diplomatic, military, and economic influence in the region. Venezuela is one of Russia’s largest clients for weapons purchases, while Bolivia has expressed interest in Russian investment for developing its substantial energy resources. Additionally, Venezuela and Bolivia were among only 11 nations (including Cuba and North Korea) that voted against a United Nations resolution essentially declaring Russia’s annexation of Crimea to be illegal.
What is perhaps most important to Russia and its proxy, RT, is that these countries have been actively reducing the role and influence of the U.S. in Latin America, thus creating more room for Russia to exploit Latin America in whatever way it deems fit. The biased coverage of Latin America that RT offers is not only misleading but damaging and serves only to promote paranoia, endanger stability, and impede growth in the region.
Andres Martinez-Fernandez is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.