VIO News Blog

October 7, 2008

The Uninformed Opine, Unhindered by Fact Checks

Venezuelan police detained three suspects yesterday in the recent murder of a student in Zulia state. The investigation “has advanced significantly,” according to Justice Minister El Aissami, the AP reports.

In economic news, the AP reports that Venezuela forecasts 6 percent economic growth in 2008. Growth is still “very robust,” according to the planning minister, even after a slight decline from last year’s rate of 8.8 percent. The Miami Herald reports that the balance sheets of Latin American states remain solid, but that the US credit crunch may affect them. In the context of the current US financial crisis, President Chavez suggested that it will be important for a new president to hold dialogue with other countries throughout the world. According to El Universal, Chavez said: “The next president of the United States must sit down and talk to the world. He has to do it.”

A Washington Times article makes the absurd assertion that Venezuelan troops were in Bolivia during a recent outbreak of opposition violence in which peasants were massacred. This assertion is based solely on rumors, and has been reported in no other respected news sources. Author Martin Arostegui has consistently written pieces about Venezuela that lack factual evidence.

Several opinion pieces today deserve notice. A Washington Post editorial wrongly characterizes Ecuador and several other Latin American governments as “satellites” of the Chavez administration. These governments, however, have all been democratically elected, have different policies, and are held accountable by citizens. By overlooking this fact, the Post does a disservice to readers. Secondly, a New York Times editorial on Bolivia advocates trade sanctions against that country that were rejected by the US Congress. Those sanctions, advocated by the Bush White House but rejected by lawmakers, were based on a politicized and inaccurate understanding of Bolivia’s role in fighting drug cultivation and trafficking. Contrary to the White House accusations, Bolivia is becoming increasingly successful in fighting drugs.

Finally, an opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor accuses Bolivia’s Morales of destabilizing the country, when in fact the government has held talks with the opposition in a search to reach a settlement and end opposition violence. Bolivian citizens confirmed the legitimacy of the Morales administration by voting overwhelmingly in favor of his government in a recent referendum.

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