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What You Won’t Hear About Hugo #Chavez in the Establishment Press

The US establishment loves to hate on Hugo Chavez for his economic policies that favor the poor. Don’t get me wrong, Chavez was not perfect. But he overcame huge obstacles to reduce poverty in Venezuela. That’s no easy feat in Latin America as Naomi Klein demonstrates in the first half of “The Shock Doctrine”.

Following news of Chavez’s death this afternoon, the mainstream media wasted no time trashing him. I’ve already lost track of the number of times he’s been called a dictator, conspiracy theorist, tyrant and anti-American, among other things. In light of this slanderous coverage, here are aspects of Chavez’s leadership that you likely won’t hear in the mainstream press:

Venezuelan Elections were Fairer and Freer than the US

Though US elites often label Chavez a dictator, there is no question that he was democratically elected in elections monitored by Jimmy Carter. The same can’t be said in America, where voter suppression and waiting hours in line to cast a ballot are the norm.

United States Linked to 2002 Coup Attempt

The mainstream media loves to paint Chavez as a conspiracy nut because of his repeated accusations that the US has tried to overthrow him. But is he wrong? Aside from the CIA’s sordid history of assassinating left-leaning Latin American leaders (again, check out “The Shock Doctrine”), Chavez had good reason to fear the United States, especially after finding out that the 2002 coup’d’etat attempt against him was backed by members of the Bush administration who happen to be some of the same people behind the overthrows and assassinations of the 1980s.

Media Outlet that Chavez ‘Censored’ was Instrumental in Coup Attempt

If  CNN conspired to overthrow the democratically elected President of the United States, there’s no doubt in my mind that they would be shut down and jailed for treason with little objection. Yet, when Chavez denied a license to Venezuela’s privately owned RCTV for their role in the 2002 coup, the US media framed it as Chavez censoring a media outlet that was merely critical of his politics, a talking point that is still employed today. (For more on this, read Fairness in Accuracy and Reporting’s coverage).

Redistributionist Policies Worked

As for his social policies, the media often lambasts Chavez for manipulating the poor with his charisma and handouts. They’re just pissed because he successfully reduced poverty ending corporate domination of the economy, particularly the oil industry. Here are some of the most important highlights laid out by nonpartisan and highly respected Center for Economic and Policy Research:

Among the highlights:

  • The current economic expansion began when the government got control over the national oil company in the first quarter of 2003. Since then, real (inflation-adjusted) GDP has nearly doubled, growing by 94.7 percent in 5.25 years, or 13.5 percent annually.
  • Most of this growth has been in the non-oil sector of the economy, and the private sector has grown faster than the public sector.
  • During the current economic expansion, the poverty rate has been cut by more than half, from 54 percent of households in the first half of 2003 to 26 percent at the end of 2008. Extreme poverty has fallen even more, by 72 percent. These poverty rates measure only cash income, and do not take into account increased access to health care or education.
  • Over the entire decade, the percentage of households in poverty has been reduced by 39 percent, and extreme poverty by more than half.
  • Inequality, as measured by the Gini index, has also fallen substantially. The index has fallen to 41 in 2008, from 48.1 in 2003 and 47 in 1999. This represents a large reduction in inequality.
  • Real (inflation-adjusted) social spending per person more than tripled from 1998-2006.
  • From 1998-2006, infant mortality has fallen by more than one-third. The number of primary care physicians in the public sector increased 12-fold from 1999-2007, providing health care to millions of Venezuelans who previously did not have access.
  • There have been substantial gains in education, especially higher education, where gross enrollment rates more than doubled from 1999-2000 to 2007-2008.
  • The labor market also improved substantially over the last decade, with unemployment dropping from 11.3 percent to 7.8 percent. During the current expansion it has fallen by more than half. Other labor market indicators also show substantial gains.
  • Over the past decade, the number of social security beneficiaries has more than doubled.
  • Over the decade, the government’s total public debt has fallen from 30.7 to 14.3 percent of GDP. The foreign public debt has fallen even more, from 25.6 to 9.8 percent of GDP.
  • Inflation is about where it was 10 years ago, ending the year at 31.4 percent. However it has been falling over the last half year (as measured by three-month averages) and is likely to continue declining this year in the face of strong deflationary pressures worldwide.

Update: I initially linked to a piece at the Boston Review showing Chavez was anti-semitic to demonstrate that he was flawed. It turns out that the piece was based on a Chavez quote edited by the right-wing media in 2006 to paint him as anti-semitic and the mainstream media eventually picked it up. Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting explains the timeline of events that led to the charge in a piece titled “Editing Chavez to Manufacture a Slur“.

I’m no expert on whether Chavez was anti-semitic or not but I’m hesitant to accuse him of bigotry if the only evidence is an edited quote and criticism of Israel and Zionism.

  1. Reblogged this on paurina and commented:
    Chavez’s achievements

    March 5, 2013
  2. Peter Hindrup #

    Look for a frenzied attempt by the US to destabilise Venezuela, support and arm ‘dissidents’, anything and everything in an attempt to get control of the country, to control the oil.

    March 5, 2013
  3. About “descendants of the same people that crucified Christ” –

    March 5, 2013
  4. Gerrie #

    Through out human History,,, MIGHT IS THE RULE OF THE DAY.

    Therefore, for mercenary Western Slave Empires, EVERYONE, anyone & any nation is expendable, UNDER ANY OTHER NAME.

    Therefore, just like neighbourhood bully stealing lunch money from the neighbourhood children, ANYONE who refuses to serve the “corporate profit” of Western mercenary Slave Empires, is ended labeled “the enemy of the West”, pinned-down & targeted for immediate elimination, forced to be replaced by a SLAVE/TYRANT willing to sell the soul of his own nation in the service of “corporate profit” of mercenary Western Slave Empires.

    The same goes for Chavez & many more nationalist champions of their own people & their own nation, who refused to succumb in the service of mercenary Western Slave Empires.

    So much for “civilized world”,,, worn-out deception.

    March 5, 2013
  5. Jorge #

    As one of the millions of Venezuelans who had to leave the country due to the terrible conditions I can just tell you one thing: You’re so wrong! Other than the US having helped in the 2002 coup, all your other points are simply wrong.
    Elections in Venezuela are severely impacted by voter harassing and threatening. Check out the stories about what happened to public employees who signed for having a referendum against Chavez in 2002 (they were all fired). In the last elections the government threatened employees with stripping them of their benefits if they voted against the president.
    The TV station closed by Chavez was not an instrumental part of the coup, it was simply biased. It had a clear editorial line against the government, just as any station in other country. They didn’t do anything other than showing their position. However they were the biggest station in the country which the government didn’t like.
    Redistribution policies didn’t work, just give a stroll through Caracas to take a look. Lack of international investment, decrease in oil production, increase of dependency on food imports and constant food shortages are a few indicators to look at.

    I didn’t read this somewhere, I didn’t hear it from someone, I lived it.

    March 5, 2013
    • Jorge, you are wrong and you are not at Venezuela right now. If u want internacional investement, money, car, big mansion, then go to USA and stay there so long time. All you want is at USA, stop to suffer for a democratic country.

      We are living democratic times, I didnt read it, i didnt hear it, i’m living and i’m proud of Boliviarian Republic of Venezuela.

      March 6, 2013
  6.–ZFtjR5c Excellent article, clearly lays out the facts!

    March 5, 2013
  7. j03 #

    Greatest moments in #HugoChavez history:

    I love Chavez. Such a good guy. Hilarious too, check out the vid ^^

    March 6, 2013
  8. Joe #

    Oh, and here’s George Galloway backing-up the points in your article at Oxford:

    March 6, 2013
  9. David W #

    Huffington Post’ main-page headline was “HE’S DEAD”
    Not a whiff of respect. Couldn’t they have simply said “CHAVEZ DEAD”
    I guess they cater to their low-info clientele/readership.

    March 6, 2013
  10. Reblogged this on Esai-esai Nano.

    March 6, 2013
  11. Jose #

    wow, this is pure garbage. wake up and get a real job or something and stop hating. this article proves you know very little about VA and its people.

    March 6, 2013
    • Umm…what hate? Her points were FOR the man, not against him.

      March 6, 2013
  12. Thank you for posting this information! I am proud to part of such a great blogging community!

    March 6, 2013
  13. VK #

    What a bunch of lies. Free ellections? Public employees were threatened to vote for Chavez, as well as all beneficiaries of social security programs from the state! Waiting for hours to vote is the rule in Vzla. Un employment is 7% because Chavez decided to say that selling things on the street is employment. 50% of those jobs come from non formal street sellers, desperate people who are trying to get something to eat! Do they have job security? do they have benefits? do they even have a salary? No. Please, dont lie. Now that he is dead, people are going to say was a great president. He was not! He was not a democrat, he was a dictator who threaten, torture and put in jail to a lot of people just for having different ideas. RIP Hugo Chavez, but I pray for the peace of my beatiful country: Venezuela

    March 6, 2013
    • And how is job security for most Americans these days ? And you can’t even sell on the street in the Land of the Free or you’ll be arrested for vagrancy or some obscure permit code.

      March 7, 2013
  14. Thierry Dominique #

    Nice article. It’s so sad to see millions of people being infested by that disease called corporate media propaganda. Soon after Chavez’s passing, mainstream media was in celebration mode through disgusting print articles and TV reports on the late leader’s alleged dictatorship. All of this in the name of western-style democracy. Pathetic.

    March 7, 2013
  15. Joe #

    The best media coverage of Chavez in the US was on DN! yesterday. It was a roundtable discussion with people who know the country well. Recommended:

    March 7, 2013
  16. Laura #

    The US doesn’t hate Chavez because he is trying to fix inequality. We disagree with his policies because there is a lack of civil liberties, political rights, oppression of the opposition, violence (which has nearly went up 4x under his rule.) corruption, unfair elections, that he filled the National Assembly with people of his own party, effectively blurring the lines between the government and the ruling party. The control of mass media. The list goes on. There are thousands of reports to back all that up. There are thousands of Venezuelans living outside the country as refugees and others who chose exile. This is the most ridiculous thing I have read in a while… and no, I am not in the US, so I am not being brain washed by US media, I live in Latin America, a lot of us hate him too down here. Get a grip.

    May 2, 2013
    • j03 #

      You are sadly mistaken, especially in regard to fair elections and media control. Please refer to the links I posted above in order to educate yourself. I put them here for people such as yourself. If you have a short attention span, just watch the one from George Galloway. If not, watch the DN! one too.

      May 2, 2013

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