The Independent’s Knee and Jerk

Hugo Chavez’s activities usually elicit a knee-jerk response from most of the British media. The title of the latest Independent’s leading article summarizes it well: “A perilous new twist in the Venezuelan revolution“.  Now consider, Venezuela conducts an open and fair referendum on the term limits on the president, and this is termed “perilous” and “… hope that, for the sake of the Venezuelan people, it does not end up dragging the country back into the mire of authoritarianism.”  Why should a referendum be construed as a peril? If anything a referendum is a bona fide democratic procedure and thus it should enhance the democratic nature of Venezuelan society.

The Independent’s editorial writers state: “The scrapping of term limits will do nothing to help build confidence in the rule of law. All free nations need firm checks on executive power. Developing nations like Venezuela need these checks just as much as richer countries.”  Why do they criticise a Venezuelan referendum meant to expand term limits while in the UK there are no term limits at all for Prime Ministers, and most other political offices?  Technically, in the UK, the same Prime Minister could cling on to power for decades, but, for some unspecified reason, it is only when Chavez seeks an extension of his term that there is a problem with it. And is the extension of president’s term really detrimental in Venezuela’s observance of “the rule of law”?  And when was the last time these same editorial writers pontificated about Hosni Mubarak’s investiture-for-life as Egypt’s decades-long president? The simple answer is: they haven’t done so. In the case of corrupt and dictatorial “presidents” who cling on to power for decades, e.g., Hosni Mubarak, or the autocratic monarchs of the Gulf States, the editorial writers are mostly silent.  It is clear that a double standard seems to apply.

The Independent’s editorial writers state: “With all this in mind, it is hard to interpret the weekend’s referendum result as a positive step for Venezuelan democracy.”  It is not up to some fatuous editors sitting in London to make this assessment.  Ultimately, the ones who determine the outcome of this referendum are the Venezuelan people.  If in their view they didn’t care for the Chavez or what he represents, then they could have rejected him in the referendum.  The editorial writers seem to hold the Venezuelan electors in contempt because they don’t vote according to “western” expectations.

The Independent’s editorial writers admit that Chavez is “is certainly better than what came before him”, and list a few of his achievements.  At the same time there is no mention of the opposition’s authoritarian tendencies or the threat to Venezuela’s democracy when the right-wing and the military launched a coup in 2002.  It certainly is odd to regard Chavez “authoritarian”, i.e., someone who has been elected several times and has
put up with the opposition’s electoral charades, while the mean-spirited nature of the opposition is neglected.

Finally, the editorial pontificators state:

“Now, more than ever, Venezuela’s future depends on a personality. Will Mr Chavez be able to suppress the authoritarian instincts that revealed themselves in his character periodically over the past decade? There are new pressures now. Mr Chavez will find it increasingly difficult to finance his social revolution now oil prices have collapsed. Recession is one battle that the former tank commander has never had to fight before.”

What “authoritarian instincts” are they writing about?  Simply put: the editorial writers are uttering nonsense.  And about the “new pressures” and the difficulty in funding the social revolution or whatever economic project: this is a challenge faced by every country in the current world-wide depression; it is not only Venezuela that confronts a unique problem.

Here is Dave Brown’s cartoon that accompanied the lead article.
It exhibits the same nonsensical interpretation of the referendum as the piece written by the editorial writers.  Chavez tends to elicit in The Independent’s editors a knee-jerk reaction, with an emphasis on the latter.

6 thoughts on “The Independent’s Knee and Jerk”

  1. There are so many jerk-off reporters on the Indie no-one should be surprised by this mind-numbingly fatuous piece on Chavez.

    Shouldn’t a country where the democratic deficit has been glaringly oppressive for decades,where both major parties are merely fronts for the Rothschild synarchy,where the security services can carry out any manner of targetted assassinations,false-flag terrorism,and rig elections on the failing unelected leader’s behalf be of more interest to the Indie?

    Then again,I almost forget to mention that the aforesaid country has a controlled media that covers for the ruling kleptocracy and its insidious depradations against civil liberties at home and its aggressive imperialism abroad.

    One would have thought any of these aspects of life in the UK would have featured on the Indie’s Home page instead of the risible reproaches against Chavez’s authoritarian streak on its Foreign page.

    After all people who live in glass houses ought not themselves throw stones….

  2. Herald International Tribune and Haaretz have both recently reported on anti-semitism as an emerging theme in the referendum campaign.

    This has especially been the case since the attack on the Tiferet synagogue.The US Congress and the WJC have denounced Chavez for whipping up anti-semitism since his expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in the wake of the Gaza massacre.

    However,evidently the false-flag nature of the attack that permitted the Lobby to go up a gear in its anti-Chavez rhetoric will shortly be revealed.

    Unlike the 7/7 London attacks where the Israeli company that supplies the capital’s security camera network made sure all the cameras were disabled for the duration of the attacks-in the Tiferet synagogue the cameras were inadvertently left on.

    It seems likely that the true Mossad provenance of the attack will soon be made public by the Venezuelan investigators.The CIA provenance of attacks on the papal diplomatic mission,municipal and media offices during the campaign is likely not lost on any Venezuelans.

    Those itching to see through the fog of disinformation spouting from sources like the Indie would be well advised to go to where 10 years of the Bolivarian revolution’s progress are charted.

    Were Chavez to opt for a Rothschild-controlled central bank he’d find more plaudits on the Indie.

    There’s a lesson there for Iran,N.Korea and Sudan too,methinks.

  3. The fact is the alternating power has been one of the biggest advances in the history of Latin America. Th international press may be hypocritical, but I am not keen on unlimited terms for a president and all officials. All studies suggests that anyone in power has a given advantage (public employees, public money and State-owned media were used to support Chavez’s campaign). More important, are we really saying that without Chavez there is no revolution? Sorry… don’t agree with that. At the end of this second term he would have been in power for 14 years!!!! Let me cite Simon Bolivar: “No men should be too long in power because he gets use to order and people get use to obey”.

  4. Gregory Wilpert is possible one of the best analysts of the political situation in Venezuela. In this article he discusses the pros/cons of the term extension, and the implications of the recent referendum…

  5. Thanks for this, I read Gregory Wilpert’s article in ZNet. Although I agree in the first general statement I was not at all impressed by the article in itself. There are several not well informed points such as the claim that the opposition loss the 2005 parliamentarian election (in fact the opposition did not participate and only 13% of the people voted). The claims that the government is misusing public money and resources for its own campaigns is not ‘exaggerated’ (even though some could claim widely justified in light of the private media’s overall hegemony). Equally wrong is his view that by strengthening the Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV) he can guarantee the future of the revolution. These are the facts: he won roughly with 6 million votes against 5 million, while almost 4.5 million did not bother to go to vote. The country is still, after ten years, deeply divided. The people do not identify with political parties (the PSUV has only 13% of support; it is Chavez who people follow not the party). Chavez lost in 2007 because –among other reasons- many people support Chavez but not the whole idea of a socialist project.
    Chavez is very popular, and I do agree that will continue wining elections for the foreseeable future. However, we would be mistaken if we thought that people are following him yet because of his ideas or projects. Instead it is because many people have improved their life standards (Chavez said that is because of the revolutionary project, the opposition says is because of the oil prices boom since 1998). The issue at the end is that old Marx is -I am afraid- right once more. It is the material conditions that will define the future of the Bolivarian revolution in the same way that brought him to power.
    In 1998 68% of Venezuela’s exports were oil, today is 84%; the country is far more dependant of raw material than ever. Worst, according to the government’s own statistics Venezuela is importing nearly 75% of all it consumes (there is a serious deterioration of the industrial park at an alarming rate). These same official statistics allows us to predict that if the Venezuelan oil price reaches in average US$ 43 (the Tia Juana type is now at US$38) Venezuela will receive US$ 47 billion next year. Considering that last year (2008) Venezuela imported US$ 45 billion in food, goods and services, this only leaves some US$ 2 billion for the rest of the economy. That is a dire prospect by all account.
    To make matters more complicated, Venezuela’s oil production is at the moment 2.3 million barrels a day, so Chavez does not has a lot of room to manoeuvre in keep cutting production to increase prices in coordination with OPEC cuts. Given the perspectives for the world markets in 2009/2010, it is unlikely that we would see oil prices reaching anywhere near the prices of 2007 (unless Israel-US attack Iran, not an unlikely scenario).
    As Wilpert’s article points out, the fact that the revolutionaries have put all their eggs in Chavez is risky. But equally risky in my view is that Chavez himself has put so many eggs in the Venezuelan oil industry. Let’s hope, for the sake of Venezuela, that he has kept some eggs under the sleeves.

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