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Media Coverage of Venezuela: Correcting the Record

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I had the opportunity to talk on C-SPAN yesterday about how the media here misrepresents the reality of Venezuela for the vast majority of Americans who will never set foot in the country. Exhibit A, from the Washington Post editorial board last week: "despite a one-sided campaign that left a majority of Venezuelans believing they might be punished if they did not cast their ballots for him, Mr. Chávez received only 7 million votes."

Earth to the Post: Voting in Venezuela is by secret ballot, as any observer from the Organization of American States (OAS) or European Union could have told them. There was no reported evidence that this secrecy was violated or that voters were intimidated into re-electing Chavez. The "only 7 million votes" constituted a 50-year record, at least, in number and percentage - 63 percent, the highest of 9 presidential elections in Latin America last year - and more than 2.5 times the number of votes that Chavez received in his first (1998) election. The opposition was united, well-financed (they still have most of the country's income and wealth, even if they can only get 37 percent of the vote), and was supported by most of the media. In short, the Post editorial board's description of the election was ridiculous.

You can see more of this by viewing the C-SPAN clip (it's got my name on it) at here

I didn't get to talk much about the economic issues, for those who want more of that, here is a recent op-ed I wrote in the International Herald Tribune.

Despite President Bush's proposed "surge" dominating the international news, Venezuela has received some attention recently because President Hugo Chavez last week announced his intention to nationalize the major telecommunications company, some electricity production, and to seek majority ownership of some joint ventures where foreign oil companies now have a majority stake.

Excellent New Blog on Venezuela: www.borev.net

Most major media reporting on Venezuela resembles the reporting on Iraq in the run-up to the war, when the majority of Americans were convinced that Saddam Hussein was actually involved in the massacre of September 11, 2001. The English-language blogs on Venezuela are worse, ranging from far-right to ultra-right (including an unusually right-wing blog on Venezuela hosted by Salon.com).

So it is refreshing to see a new blog that takes the media to task for its misreporting on Venezuela: www.borev.net , as in "Bolivarian Revolution." Unlike the dry and boring style of policy wonks like yours truly, the Borev is witty and entertaining as it pillories opponents, with great links for further reading. A couple of my favorites from recent Borev archives:
here
, here, and here.

Definitely worth getting an RSS feed for this one if you are interested in Venezuela and/or media coverage of these issues.