As the Deputy Editorial Page Editor of the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl has quite a pulpit from which to bully. Actually, “bludgeon” is closer to what Diehl does in his November 19 editorial about President Hugo Chavez and the upcoming referendum on reforms to the Venezuelan constitution. Over time, the Post has metamorphosed into the Miami Herald of the north in both its news coverage and editorial stance on Latin America. It is no wonder then that Diehl’s editorial repeats the same old State Department smears against Chavez which, by definition, are devoid of both truth and context. There is nothing revelatory in the editorial, yet Diehl is determined to fit in every nasty reference to Chavez or bust! Most editorial writers introduce a theme and then lead the reader, logically, to a specific conclusion. Diehl punches you into submission. When you strip his editorial of its lies and spewing hatred, nothing is left. Unfortunately, there are Diehls at newspapers throughout the country writing similar editorials and the cumulative effect of this chorus is to pave the way for aggressive U. S. action against Venezuela. The U. S. media played the same role in the build-up to the 2002 US-supported coup in Venezuela.
And herein is the danger of the mainstream press; it is not mainstream. It is radical. It is a willing instrument of U.S. foreign policy makers to help prepare the public to accept, and often cheer, U. S. coups, invasions, and assassinations. A large part of building acceptance for aggressive and illegal actions against sovereign states is to demonize the democratically-elected leaders of those states. This has certainly been the case with Hugo Chavez. Further, although few in number, Venezuelan opposition groups are given outrageously disproportionate coverage by the U. S. media while we hear little or nothing of what the majority think. We are steered to hate Chavez about whom little truth is provided and urged to cast our lot with a minority opposition whose views and motivations appear perfectly aligned with the hegemonic policies of the U. S
Countering the lies and innuendo and dissecting the reasons for which they are used, is like fighting to get out of quicksand. You might get a leg up by revealing a lie or dispelling an innuendo, but the full court press by the U. S. media will quickly sink you back down again. In the case of Venezuela, it appears that the only way to counter the media onslaught is to focus on the only things that should matter in the run up to the referendum: the people of Venezuela, their Bolivarian revolution, and their democratically-elected president.
Regardless of what the Washington Post, its twin in Miami, or numerous other coup-mongering newspapers say, the majority of Venezuelans are A-ok with their president. Venezuelans know that their only hope of maintaining the social programs that have so dramatically changed their lives is to keep the guy in office who made it all happen. Thus, it is the reform concerning continuous elections that has the media in a state of near hysteria. Editorial after editorial published over the last few weeks suggests that “Chavez is trying to remain in office for life.”
Part of the reason that the media can get away with saying such absurd things is because it has provided the public with very little information about the specifics of the reforms, making it difficult for the reader to come to any other conclusion other than that of the editorial page. The continuous elections proposed reform is straightforward: elections are to be held at their customary intervals, citizens have the right to run candidates against Chavez or his party, and the populace has the right to organize a national recall referendum to oust the sitting president mid-term. The reform allows the majority of Venezuelans to keep leaders who serve them well for as long as they wish and to get rid of them when they don’t. We, here, would be lucky to have such a democratic system.
As for the Bolivarian revolution, it is focused on taking the resources of the country and focusing them on the needs of the people, especially the poor. The revolution is a natural outgrowth of the abuse, neglect, and oppression of the previous 500 years. Enough said.
President Chavez has been elected repeatedly by a solid majority of Venezuelans, many of whom are people of color. Discrimination by white elites in Latin America has been, and still is, a vicious instrument of control over Indians and Afro Latinos, of which Chavez is both. Historically, people of color in Venezuela have been marginalized politically, that is, until Chavez came along. Yet, without constitutional protections, the rights of these peoples could be trampled upon in the future. It is for this reason that the proposed reform to Article 100 of the constitution is so important. The reform would specifically recognize the popular cultures of indigenous and African-descended peoples and ensure respect for their intercultural nature under the principle of cultural equality. With this reform, ALL Venezuelans will be fully recognized in the Venezuelan constitution.
For the majority of Venezuelans, they hit the jackpot with Chavez – finally, a president who looks and thinks like them with a plan to alleviate poverty, increase literacy, improve employment and uplift the society overall. After a couple of hundred years of being ruled by privatizing capitalists with the mentality of white men who remained in office only because elections were perpetually rigged, all Venezuelans now have the opportunity to participate in the political process of their country. Contrary to what the media insinuates, Venezuela’s proposed constitutional reforms serve to do nothing more than broaden the people’s democratic toolbox.