April 5, 2014

NYT Gives Print Op-ed Space to Venezuela’s Maduro, Consigns Responses to Web, Ignores Growing Repression

On April 1 for its April 2 print edition, the New York Times allowed Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro to hold forth in an op-ed about how wondrously the country has been ruled since 1998, mostly by the late Bolivarian thug Hugo Chavez and during the past year by himself.

Maduro’s piece made the Times’s print edition. The Times posted letters objecting to Maduro’s characterizations of his country from Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, an opposition leader, and Congressman Edward R. Royce, but appears not to have printed them. I say that because there is no indication at the letters themselves that they were printed, and because certain other letters on unrelated matters are (examples here and here; scroll to the bottom in each instance). The Times did post and print a letter from Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Friday for Saturday’s print edition. The Times, to likely no one’s surprise, has been lax in reporting ongoing developments in that deeply troubled country.

The points Maduro attempte to make in his op-ed were predictable. Whoever wrote it for him must have studied the late Occupy movement in the U.S.:


… We have built a participatory democratic movement from the grass roots that has ensured that both power and resources are equitably distributed among our people.

… We have created flagship universal health care and education programs, free to our citizens nationwide.

… In the United States, the protesters have been described as “peaceful,” while the Venezuelan government is said to be violently repressing them. According to this narrative, the American government is siding with the people of Venezuela; in reality, it is on the side of the 1 percent who wish to drag our country back to when the 99 percent were shut out of political life.

I’ll stop there. That’s all I can stand.

As to the first point, Chavez’s and now Maduro’s vision of “power and resources are equitably distributed” has included expropriations of privately held property and companies. Maduro’s latest gambit is forcing certain of the country’s landlords, i.e., those who have held their property for 20 years or more, to sell it to their tenants at government-approved prices and at risk of large government fines if they fail to comply.

As to the country’s fantastic “free” health care system, as I noted in November in reviewing an Associated Press story on a doctor’s strike:

… It’s in shambles.

(from the AP story)

… doctors say (the system) is collapsing after years of deterioration.”

… Doctors not allied with the government say many patients began dying from easily treatable illnesses when Venezuela’s downward economic slide accelerated after Chavez’s death from cancer in March. Doctors say it’s impossible to know how many have died, and the government doesn’t keep such numbers, just as it hasn’t published health statistics since 2010.

Almost everything needed to mend and heal is in critically short supply …

Last month, the government suspended organ donations and transplants …

Enough said.

As to the final excerpted point from Maduro’s op-ed, the AP has reported that Venezuela’s bishops aren’t buying what Maduro is selling:

Venezuela’s organization of Roman Catholic bishops is accusing the government of seeking totalitarian-style rule, comments that potentially could complicate the Vatican’s offer to facilitate talks between the socialist government and its opposition.

The Conference of Venezuelan Bishops is calling on President Nicolas Maduro to halt his crackdown on critics who have been protesting in the streets for seven weeks. The conference president is Bishop Diego Padron. Speaking in Caracas on Wednesday, he accused Maduro of attempting to criminalize dissent.

With all due respect, Bishop Padron, that ship has sailed. Maduro has already criminalized dissent, and has allowed his thug supporters, known as “colectivos,” to brutalize and murder innocent protesters.

A Times search sorted by date on “Venezuela Maduro” (not in quotes) shows that it is virtually ignoring the three points just raised. By printing Maduro’s op-ed, marginalizing opponents’ responses, and failing to do its journalistic job, the Times is disgracefully propping up an authoritarian thug just when he appears to be most vulnerable.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


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