The New York Times Does Not Like Hugo Chavez
The Times treats us to a delightful polemic on that Venezuelan demagogue we in America just love to hate. Entitled “Purging Loyalists, Chavez Tightens Inner Circle”, the article is short on facts, but long on accusations. The crux, it seems, is that Chavez has raided the homes and offices of a few of his wealthy financiers and has put out a few arrest warrants, causing these bankers to flee. The total number of people affected is in the low tens, and by all accounts the ‘victims’ were highly corrupt.
Still, this has not prevented The Times from repeatedly referring to this action as a “purge”, and carrying wide and baseless speculation as to the nature of these arrests. Oh, the accusations fly, as “experts” weigh in on the internecine conflicts this signifies, the “power struggle” erupting in Chavez’s cabinet. No one, it seems, is willing to entertain the notion that this was merely an anti-corruption operation – long overdue, but sorely needed.
This, of course, is not the first hit piece the Times has put out on Chavez and Venezuela. Its “Times Topics” page on Venezuela carries exclusively negative headlines, all the way back to the ’90s. Their correspondent, Simon Romero, clearly has a bone to pick.
On July 21st, 2009, we learn that the Venezuelan state is “Ruled by Crime Family and Chavez”
On December 11th, he gives a ludicrous headline that “In Venezuela, Even Death May Not Bring Peace”
Oh May 30th, a scary headline: “Chavez Seeks Tighter Grip On Military”
So it isn’t hard to see what kind of opinion The Times has of Venezuela, and what they want us, their readers, to think of Hugo Chavez.
But what about Colombia, you ask? That cocaine-producing, para-military infested, murderous neighbor of Venezuela? The one whose record Human Rights Watch has referred to as “appalling“, whereas its neighbor, Venezuela, is “relatively open“? Well, there we get a much different picture from The Times.
Last July we learned that the Colombian Trade Deal Is Threatened– not, of course, by Colombia’s borderline genocidal government, but by “American labor unions, Democratic leaders in Congress and Senator Barack Obama.”
A couple weeks ago, we learn that Colombia’s Capital finds a New Sense of Optimism.
Last September we learned that the US Government has decided to “Upgrade Colombia’s Human Rights Score” – for no reason other than to allow another $32 million into that corrupt and violent country.
And later, a delightful fluff piece on Colombia’s amateur bullfights.
I think you get the idea. The Times prints hardly an negative article on Colombia – our “trade partner” – even though human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned its US-friendly government. In fact, they seem to go out of their way to paint Colombia in as positive a light as possible. Venezuela, on the other hand, is a country which “threatens our interests”, so its leader, Hugo Chavez, must be demonized whenever possible – even though Venezuela is almost universally seen as a safer, more secure, and less oppressive place to live and work.
Now, I don’t want to make a full apology for Chavez’s government, as he has certainly partook in his share of undemocratic practices (most notably political discrimination and abolishing of term limits). But when it comes to Colombia, there really is no comparison. Colombia is in every way a more violent, drug-infested, para-military ruling violent narco-state.
However they also happen to be a major US “trade partner”, and to The Times, that makes all the difference.