Monday, February 17, 2003


Michael Rowan writes for the Venezuela English language newspaper, the Daily Journal. Unfortunately that paper does not have a web page otherwise I would have posted the link long ago. He did write a couple of interesting columns recently and he was nice enough to provide the text directly to me so I would not have to scan or retype the article to post it here.

The first column points to 10 things that the world media writes or thinks when covering Venezuela. I do not quite agree with all he says but it is pretty much to the point and I post it below without comments.


By Michael Rowan for El Universal [publication 11 Feb 03, Spanish text]

Many in the world media have made ten fundamental mistakes about the Venezuelan story. These are:

One, Chavez is waging a revolution against poverty. It’s all talk. Poverty has increased by 20% or more in the last four years, and precisely because of Chavez’ policies.

Two, Chavez is out to eliminate corruption. Just the opposite is the fact. The systemic incentives for corruption -- monopoly and secrecy -- have skyrocketed under Chavez. Immense amounts of public spending are not accounted for. The president has openly pledged to punish political enemies through the [currency] exchange system – a virtual announcement of planned corruption.

Three, Chavez is fighting an oligarchy. Truth is, Chavez is the oligarchy. Read the dictionary definition of the term.

Four, Chavez is president of all the people of Venezuela. No, he does not govern to unify Venezuela but to divide it with class warfare. There are millions of people the president does not represent and who he wants to drive out of the country.

Five, Chavez is a democrat. No he is not. He was democratically elected, just as Hitler was. But at heart he is an autocrat like Castro.

Six, there was a coup on April 11th waged by terrorists. False. There was a coup on April 12th waged by a few dozen idiots who hijacked a genuine and spontaneous public outrage by millions of peaceful demonstrators.

Seven, the media are leading the effort to remove Chavez from office. In fact, the media are following the effort by millions of Venezuelans to do so. The messenger is not the message. Take away the media, and the opposition to Chavez would not diminish by one iota.

Eight, Chavez is the victim of racism – a small group of rich white men want to cashier the dark-skinned president. This assertion is the height of cynicism. If only people of color were to vote in an election, Chavez would lose.

Nine, PDVSA will recover from the attack on knowledge, technology, finance and organizational culture it has been developing for 25 years. No it will not. The PDVSA of 2002 is gone, whether it can recover is doubtful.

Ten, Chavez is a leftist like Lula of Brazil or Gutierrez of Ecuador. No he is not. Like Castro, the president is obsessed with accumulating power, not using it for any purpose on the left, center or right.

International journalists must not take the words of the most calculating spin-doctor in Latin America literally. Look into the facts to find the truth.

[ Michael Rowan can be contacted at]

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