Monday, May 15, 2006

Evil Campaign to Discredit Chavez

The Daily Mail published a piece today that was highly critical of Hugo Chavez. The problem is that it is also a little liberal with the facts. There is, in fact, little or no mention of the US backed attempted coup in 2002. The journalist, Jonathan Foreman, refers only to widespread strikes. He does not discuss the fact that the strikes were used by the Fedecámaras (essentially a business friendly cartel controlling wages and conditions) to gain control of the country through Pedro Carmona. Carmona introduced a series of decrees, including:

  • declared void the 1999 Constitution adopted by referendum in 1999 (this constitution provided for many basic human rights)
  • fired the Supreme Court judges, National Electoral Court, and the ombudsman, and
  • repealed 49 laws that gave the government greater control of the economy.

Needless to say these reforms proved very unpopular, and those in the army who wished to remove Chavez soon changed their minds. Foreman reports these events thus:

'...in December 2002, the opposition shut down the country with another huge general strike that Chavez broke after two months using the army.'

No mention of a coup there then!! And Chavez used the army, not true. After being scared by the direction Carmona was heading in, the army swung back to support Chavez.

He also reports that the private media have been 'subject to violent attack' and that he controls the press 'through intimidation and self-censorship'. Makes it sound like the press are state-controlled doesn't it?? However Human Rights Watch paints a different picture:

'the Chavez government has largely respected press freedom even in the face of a strident and well-resourced opposition press. Indeed, as part of the often heated and acrimonious debate between supporters of the government and its opponents, the press has been able to express strong views without restriction. Private television companies have often adopted a blatantly partisan position, and their news and debate programs have been extremely hostile to the Chavez government. '

Not quite what Foreman would have you believe. throughout the article it attacks the way Chavez has dealt with the 'middle-classes' and yet he ignores the many benefits he has given to the poor in Venezuela including including: free education up to tertiary level, free quality health care, access to a clean environment, right of minorities (especially indigenous peoples) to uphold their own traditional cultures, religions, and languages, among others.

Hilariously, Foreman goes on to talk about Chavez whipping up 'anti-Jewish prejudice'. This is particularly funny coming from a journalist who works at a newspaper that supported Hitler prior to WWII. Those in glasshouses.....

He talks greatly of a lack of democracy in the article and yet fails to mention the many referendum that have been put before the people of Venezuela, like the constitution and the recall referendum of 2004. So he is has written human rights into the constitution, given free health care to the poorest, free education and rights to minorities. No wonder the Daily Mail hate him. As Don Quixote said: 'If the dogs are barking, it is because we are working.'