Thursday, February 26, 2004

Who can understand the New York Times?
Another installment in the shoddy editorial series
26/02/2004

The New York Times has a silly editorial today, even contradicting in a way one it had on Venezuela a year ago (Vengeance in Venezuela, Feb 21/2003).
One part in particular deserves mention:

Not long ago, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was ousted as president of Bolivia after widespread protests stemming from a natural gas deal. In 2001, President Fernando de la Rua of Argentina resigned halfway through his term after protests about the economy. Today, in addition to efforts to depose Mr. Aristide, large groups of citizens or foreign governments are calling for the resignation of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Alejandro Toledo in Peru.

Such demands seek to short-circuit the democratic process. Usually occurring in the most unfortunate countries, they degrade institutions, polarize politics and impede the continuity necessary for growth. Even when constitutions provide for referendums and other mechanisms to remove a president early, they should be invoked only in extreme circumstances.

Well, I’ll be darned! What a grab bag and lack of sophistication from the NYT, putting together 5 totally unrelated situations in one of the biggest generalizations that I have seen in a long time!!!!!! And they forgot Mahuad of Ecuador who started the whole recent cycle.

And the editorial ends:

Sacking a president usually makes things worse. Politicians will not make unpopular decisions — or decisions that offend powerful groups — if they must face the political guillotine every day. While many protesters want to destroy everything and start from zero, Latin America needs more continuity, not less. Also, with the presidency in constant play, opposition leaders will not make constructive compromises, instead manipulating every issue to try to win power.

It would be very, very easy for me to criticize and demolish that editorial, which, by the way, contradicts other earlier editorials where the NYT saw with better eyes the ouster of a few people. Instead I will agree with part of the unintentional message: the recall election process sucks and it should be stroke from the Venezuela constitution, or any constitution for that matter. Witnessing the national trauma that we have been experiencing since October 2002, I can confidently state that a recall election system is a tool of destabilization, one of the best ways invented to divide a country, no matter who is in office. My solution? Enforced separation of powers and shorter terms, neither of which exist in Venezuela and something that the New York Time editorialist gloss over (or ignores like many other facts on Latin America?) in its hurry to make a sweeping statement.

It is simply inexcusable for the New York Times to write such an ill informed editorial. It is actually arrogant and demeaning for Latin America.

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