VIO News Blog

October 20, 2008

On Venezuela, Post and Herald Fan the Flames of Ignorance and Intolerance

Analysts agree with President Chavez’s assertion that Venezuela is well prepared to weather the global financial crisis, according to the Los Angeles Times today. “We have saved and created strategic funds that we will use in a rational manner,” Chavez said. Meanwhile, the Washington Post argues the opposite, warning that Venezuela’s state budget will “feel the pinch” of falling oil prices. Bloomberg and Reuters report that President Chavez said that oil prices of $80 to $90 per barrel will be “more than sufficient” for Venezuela to remain solvent. An emergency OPEC meeting is scheduled for this Friday, and sources report that Venezuela may advocate a cut in production in response to a contraction in global demand for oil.

Venezuela’s regional elections are now nearly a month away. A Washington Times column deems Venezuela’s president a “no-goodnik” and wrongly states that he has “gutted the economy.” Venezuela has seen steady rates of economic growth over the last decade that have outstripped those of many other countries in the hemisphere. A Washington Post opinion piece entitled “Brace Yourselves” claims that Venezuela is under “authoritarian” rule, blatantly ignoring the fact of regular free and fair elections. The Miami Herald cites poll data from a notoriously biased source and makes the erroneous assertion that so-called “anti-U.S.” rhetoric by Chavez is meant to distract citizens from domestic issues ahead of voting, when in fact, there has been a continuous and lively debate about all manner of topics that are relevant at home. Instead, moves like Chavez’s expulsion of the U.S. ambassador in solidarity with Bolivia are responses to direct attacks.

One of those attacks has been the White House “majors list” of countries deemed to be failing in the “war on drugs.” Venezuela and Bolivia were named this year by the Bush Administration, and Bolivia has been slapped with trade sanctions that will deliver massive job losses in that country. The AP reports that Bolivians believe the sanctions to be politically motivated and not reflective of the reality of anti-drug efforts there. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe repeats the U.S. allegations against Venezuela, citing U.S. estimates of suspected drug flights rather than more accurate statistics kept by the Venezuelan authorities that show progress on fighting drugs. A rise in cocaine seizures, the destruction of illicit air strips, and the arrest of five major drug kingpins are among Venezuela’s achievements in the last year alone.

Finally, a brief power outage in Venezuela made news over the weekend. The BBC linked this story to the fact of Venezuela’s recent nationalization of electricity by claiming that the outages are “symbolic” of government failures. The nationalization process is intended to increase efficiency and access throughout the country.

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