At last - some accurate reporting on Venezuela

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CLICK HERE for a very good article exposing the way that corproate media has distorted the moves to strengthen infant and young child health protection in Venezuela.

Here are some excerpts.

Venezuela Promotes Breastfeeding over Baby Food, Corporate Media Spins Out of Control


Venezuela’s national assembly is debating a reform to its breastfeeding law which could see baby food companies like Nestle fined in certain situations. The corporate media have reacted hysterically to the law, claiming that President Nicolas Maduro is “taking bottles from babies’ mouths”.

.....the article continues


What the corporate media are saying

 The 2007 law and the draft reforms do not ban the production or sale of baby food or formula, as national and international media have alleged, nor do they apply any fines to mothers or penalise any choices regarding her body that a mother may make. The penalties are only for health care centres and their workers, and baby food and formula companies.

However the corporate media over the last two weeks has completely distorted the issue. Fox News Latino headlined “Venezuela Wants To Ban Baby Bottles To Promote Breast-Feeding” and stated that “Motherly love has become a state affair in Venezuela”.

 Growing Your Baby also headlined “Venezuela considering baby bottle ban”, and opened with the utterly misinformed and misleading question, “What would you do if you woke up one morning and learned that baby bottles were no longer being made or sold in your country? This question may become a reality for Venezuelan moms who may not have planned on breastfeeding”.

 Reuters won the prize however for manipulation and sensationalism, with the headline “Venezuela considers taking bottles from babies' mouths”, while other agencies have carried similar titles along the “banning” theme, with CNN’s article “Venezuela considering a ban on baby bottles” and Huffington Post ‘Venezuela considers baby bottle ban to encourage breastfeeding’. Al Jazeera went as far as to argue in its piece that “some mothers don't want the government telling them how to feed their children”. If Al Jazeera had bothered to read the 2007 law, it would have discovered that is actually the point of the law – to stop companies interfering, through misleading information and other gimmicks, in the breastfeeding process.

Venezuelan corporate press and other Spanish language media have been equally manipulative. Here is a small selection of their headlines: EFE: “Venezuela is debating a law to prohibit baby bottles”, Semana: “Baby bottle and dummy: the new enemies of Chavismo”, El Pais: “The Venezuelan government wants to oblige mothers to breastfeed”, El Popular: “Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro wants to eliminate the use of baby bottles”Noticias24 “They’ll prohibit baby bottles in health centres of Venezuela in order to force breastfeeding”, El Mundo, “Venezuela declares war on the baby bottle”, and Entornointeligente, “Goodbye to baby bottles for stimulating breastfeeding”.

Garcia argued that the media campaign to demonise the law and the proposed reforms is being pushed by the milk formula industry. She said it has had an impact in Venezuela, with “many women, even those not using baby bottles, feeling scared”.

“They are worried that the government is going to try to help them to breastfeed, that the government will take away their baby bottles and infant formulas, and is going to prohibit them from feeding their infants with baby bottles, but that’s absolutely false. First of all it’s unpractical, and secondly it is this government which has most given freedom and provided information so that families can freely chose the path they desire for their children,” she said.

The World Health Organisation recommends that babies be exclusively breast fed during the first six months, and in 1981 the 34th World Health Assembly adopted a resolution which included the International Code of Marketing Breast-Milk Substitutes. Funnily enough, it stated that food companies shouldn’t promote their products in hospitals, give free samples to mothers, or provide misleading information. One wonders if these international bodies were also accused of “stealing the bottle from babies mouths”, or is that sort of rubbish reserved for countries like Venezuela where a revolution is trying to get some justice at the expense of the poor transnationals?