New York Times v. Hugo Chavez
by Stephen Lendman
The Paper of Record’s history is longstanding and unprincipled. It supports corporate and imperial interests. It deplores populist ones. It features managed news misinformation. It betrays its readers doing so.
When America goes to war or plans one, it marches in lockstep. It’s comfortable with neoliberal harshness. It abhors progressive politics. It supports wrong over right.
It suppresses “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” It ignores America’s march to tyranny. It endorses policies demanding condemnation. It’s typical Times.
It vilified Chavez throughout his tenure. It did so unfairly. It shamed itself doing so. It matters what it says. It’s America’s leading voice. It prioritizes propaganda. It has global clout. It lies for power.
After Chavez’s December 1998 election, Times Latin American correspondent, Larry Roher, called him a “populist demagogue, an authoritarian….caudillo (strongman).” He lied saying so.
Later commentaries denounced his using petrodollars responsibly. They criticized his unifying foreign relations. They claimed he aimed to buy influence.
They condemned his raising royalties and taxes on foreign investors. They omitted explaining why. It was to make them pay their fair share. They no longer got a free lunch.
Pre-Chavez, things went their way. Whatever they wanted they got. They took full advantage. They stole Venezuela’s wealth. They harmed ordinary people doing so. Chavez said no more. He did what’s right. He was vilified for doing it.
On April 13, 2002, The Times editorial headlined “Hugo Chavez Departs,” saying:
“With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator.”
“Mr. Chavez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona.”
Chavez established democracy. He institutionalized it. He did so by national referendum. He let Venezuelans decide. He abolished despotism.
Carmona headed Fedecameras. It’s Venezuela’s Federation of Chambers of Commerce. It includes 12 trade groups: banking, agriculture, commerce, construction, energy, manufacturing, media, mining, ranching, insurance, transportation and tourism.
Washington plotted with Venezuelan oligarchs. Ousting Chavez was top priority. Bush officials hand-picked Carmona. They did so at the expense of ordinary Venezuelans.
Straightaway he proved his bona fides. He suspended democratically elected National Assembly legislators. He abolished Bolivarian constitutional reforms.
He did so by diktat. He replaced democracy with despotism. New York Times editors approved.
He didn’t last long. People power intervened. So did Venezuela’s military. They reinstated Chavez in two days. He remained president until Washington killed him.
He was marked for death. Chavez knew it. He said so numerous times. He was infected with cancer-causing substances. They were too toxic to cure.
Four operations in 18 months didn’t help. Washington wanted him dead. He’s gone. Chavismo lives.
Times editors lied. They said removing Chavez “was a purely Venezuelan affair.”
Bush officials plotted to oust him. They decided he had to go. They conspired with Venezuelan oligarchs. They failed but never quit trying. Obama did so throughout his tenure. He bears full responsibility for his death.
Times editors claimed Chavez promised change “he never delivered.”
“He courted Fidel Castro. (He) battled the media. (He) alienated virtually every constituency from middle-class professionals, academics and business leaders to union members and the Roman Catholic Church.”
Venezuelans loved him. He challenged dark forces responsibly. He did so internally and abroad. Times editors vilified him for doing so. They never let up throughout his presidency. They never gave him credit for what he did.
They softened slightly in death. They vilify him at the same time. It’s typical Times.
On March 6, its editorial headlined “Hugo Chavez,” saying:
He “dominated Venezuelan politics for 14 years with his charismatic personality, populist policies and authoritarian methods before his death this week.”
“His redistributionist policies brought better living conditions to millions of poor Venezuelans.”
“But his legacy is stained by the undermining of democratic institutions and the embrace of malevolent foreign leaders like Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.”
Chavez advocated unity and solidarity. He treated world leaders respectfully. He bashed imperial ones like Bush. He did so responsibly.
Times editors support returning Venezuela to its ugly past. They want Big Oil able to plunder its resources freely.
On the one hand, they said Chavez “devot(ed) a substantial share of the country’s oil income to building public housing, creating health clinics and making affordable food available to the poorest citizens.”
On the other, it claimed billions were “squandered through inept and careless management. And the financial ability to sustain Mr. Chavez’s social programs has been seriously eroded.”
Venezuela is prosperous economically. FY 2013 spending is budgeted to increase by one-third. It’s mainly for social and productive investment. Estimated GDP growth is 6%. In 2012, it was 5.6%. It’s opposite America’s faltering economy.
National Assembly legislator Fernando Soto Rojas called this year’s budget “essentially humanist because it attacks poverty, critical poverty, and because it guarantees continuity to the policy of social investment.”
Responsible officials prioritize it. America’s destroying its social contract. Obama demands it. So do complicit Democrats and Republicans. Times editors don’t explain.
They claimed Chavez “weakened judicial independence, intimidated political opponents and human rights defenders….”
He replaced right wing judges with equitable ones. He criticized political opponents fairly. He replicated Harry Truman. In 1948, he said:
“I don’t give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it’s Hell.”
“Give ’em Hell, Harry!” became his supporters’ signature slogan. Chavez did it his way. Venezuelans loved it.
Times editors claimed he taunted America. He acted responsibly. He spoke truth to power. Few did it as eloquently. Few dared try.
Times editors now admit what needing saying at the time. They misstated facts doing so.
They said Bush officials “badly damaged Washington’s reputation throughout Latin America when it unwisely blessed a failed 2002 military coup attempt against Mr. Chavez.”
Washington’s dirty hands handled everything. Bush officials called the shots. It’s longstanding US practice.
Toppling foreign leaders by coups or assassinations is official US policy. Post-WW II, dozens of successful and failed ones occurred. Washington’s hands are bloodstained. Times editors didn’t explain.
America should support “democratic and civilian transition in a post-Chavez Venezuela,” they say. They ignore 14 years of the hemisphere’s best under Chavez. It’s typical Times.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.