How Financial Times’ Limited Sources Compromised its Venezuela Coverage

With the recent departure of Financial Times correspondent Andrew Webb-Vidal from his post in Caracas, now is as good a time as ever to review Webb-Vidal’s partisan and sometimes erroneous coverage, in hopes that the Financial Times will turn over a new leaf in its future reporting of the country.

By Justin Delacour - Venezuelanalysis.com
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The Financial Times prides itself on its “authoritative, accurate and analytical” coverage of world events. Unfortunately, in the case of the paper’s reporting on contemporary Venezuelan politics, it has fallen far short of the mark.  With the recent departure of Financial Times correspondent Andrew Webb-Vidal from his post in Caracas, now is as good a time as ever to review Webb-Vidal’s partisan and sometimes erroneous coverage, in hopes that the Financial Times will turn over a new leaf in its future reporting of the country.

A review of more than one hundred stories by Webb-Vidal reveals how simplistically the Financial Times has portrayed Venezuelan civic and political life. As the country has embarked on one of the most profound social transformations in its history, Webb-Vidal offered little of the objective perspective that other foreign journalists have brought to their craft. In a country often polarized by class and ideology, Webb-Vidal appeared to have taken up journalistic residence in an upper-middle class Venezuela, rarely venturing outside his comfort zone to explore the working class experience.  At best, this resulted in a one-sided picture of the country. At worst, it meant that the Financial Times missed important stories altogether.

Webb-Vidal had a narrow range of sources from which he regularly quoted.  They generally represented one of three categories:

  1. Venezuelan opposition leaders, with whom Webb-Vidal presumably had regular and active contact;
  2. U.S. based think-tanks who, while not always pro-opposition, share the U.S State Department’s view of Venezuela as a “strategic threat” to the region.
  3. Spokespersons for foreign governments.  These primarily include U.S. officials but also a number of anonymous “diplomats” who invariably share the same views.

In analyzing press coverage of Venezuela, I have found that, when correspondents and/or their editors want to present an issue in a biased manner, they often look to particular non-governmental sources to corroborate the story’s slant and thereby conceal its bias.  As a former head of the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau describes this journalistic practice, “When you are going to make an opinionated kind of a statement, particularly in the news columns, editors insist you attribute it to someone other than yourself—so you go shopping.”[i]

Given the press’ tendency to rely upon non-governmental sources to buttress biased storylines, I focus my quantitative analysis on Webb-Vidal’s choices of which non-governmental sources to cite (leaving aside citations of Venezuelan government sources, official opposition leaders, and U.S. government sources).   An analysis of one hundred Venezuela-themed stories by Webb-Vidal from December 2003 to May 2006 shows that the Financial Times quoted and paraphrased non-governmental critics of the Chavez government nearly three times as often as those in favor. In the Financial Times’ citations of non-governmental sources, a total of 55 opinions against Chavez or his policies were expressed during this period, as opposed to only 19 in support (See Appendix for notes on definitions and methodology).

The following pie chart offers a breakdown of Webb-Vidal’s non-governmental sources:

This source disparity has meant that Financial Times readers have received a very slanted and incomplete picture of contemporary Venezuela. Worse, the newspaper has missed historic moments entirely because they took shape in the lower class neighborhoods largely ignored by Webb-Vidal.

The 2002 Coup—An Undetected Countermovement

In its coverage of the April 2002 coup d’état against Chavez, the Financial Times missed what became one of the most significant stories of contemporary Latin American history.  If Webb-Vidal was in communication with anyone representing Venezuelans who opposed the violent and undemocratic moves against their president, he neglected to mention them or their views.

On April 12, the day after dissident military leaders kidnapped Chavez, the Financial Times published a story that gave the impression that most Venezuelans supported the coup.  Titled “Chavez tests limits of nation's patience,” the story made no mention of the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who would soon gather in the streets to demand Chavez’s return.  Instead, Webb-Vidal focused only on what he referred to as the “broad array of businesses, unions, civil groups and opposition parties” that supported the coup.[ii]

The next day, when huge masses of Chavez supporters overturned the short-lived coup, the Financial Times published a similar story, subtitled “End of Autocratic Regime,” in which the coup is referred to as a “forced resignation,” stemming from “the mounting disenchantment of a broad - and somewhat unusual - alliance of labour, business and civic leaders, and their escalating demands.” The article ignored the popular counter-coup uprising, making no mention of the overwhelming number of Chavez supporters that would return their democratically elected leader to office later that day.[iii] 

Neither did Webb-Vidal report on the well-documented role of the U.S. government in the coup.  His only story dedicated to the subject consisted of interviews with Bush Administration and Pentagon officials denying any involvement; the report only went as far as to present the idea that the U.S. may have known a plan was in the works.[iv]  When, in July of 2002, the U.S. State Department Office of Inspector General released its findings that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Department of Defense (DOD), and other U.S. assistance programs “provided training, institution building, and other support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved in the brief ouster of the Chávez government,” Webb-Vidal did not write about this development.[v]   These apparently quite relevant findings were never mentioned in Webb-Vidal’s subsequent stories. Webb-Vidal’s articles continued to dismiss U.S. involvement as mere “accusations” by Chavez. This was quite misleading, in light of the State Department documents, as well as documents released by the CIA in 2004, which showed that the White House and State Department had prior knowledge of the coup but then tried to help the coup succeed by peddling the opposition line that no coup had taken place.

Just as the coup has become a defining and symbolic moment in modern Venezuelan history, Webb-Vidal’s coup coverage offered a glimpse into what his larger Venezuela coverage would look like in the years ahead, defined by three major journalistic problems:

  • Poor and working class Venezuelans, while making up the bulk of the Venezuelan population, were rarely interviewed, and even sizeable mass actions went unreported;
  • Wealthy elites and international business analysts made up the primary source base, and their opinions were erroneously presented as representative of the Venezuelan people as a whole; and
  • Opposition-party storylines were uncritically accepted and presented as fact.

The over-reliance on these types of sources denied Financial Times readers any real insight into why the Chavez government has enjoyed popular support.  Vague references to the government’s “largesse” did not provide a complete picture of why the government’s social programs have been supported by most Venezuelans.  Such simplistic and cynical explanations missed crucial factors at play in contemporary Venezuela. Basic universal health care, unprecedented access to all levels of education, and the encouragement of popular political empowerment through direct involvement in local decision-making bodies are important functions of government.  A fuller picture of how Venezuelan government policies have met the needs of underprivileged Venezuelans is essential to an understanding of Chavez’s popularity both in Venezuela and throughout the region.

In the months after the coup, Webb-Vidal would continue to cover opposition marches against Chavez while ignoring the equally large, and sometimes larger, marches in support of the president.  Webb-Vidal continued to report the opposition storyline that the coup was sparked when pro-Chavez demonstrators opened fire on unarmed protestors—long after that story had been debunked in the rest of the international press.

The 2004 Referendum: A Clear Bias

These journalistic problems remained in evidence two years after the coup, when Chavez handily defeated a referendum intended to cut short his term.  In February of 2004, six months before the vote, the Financial Times published an entire story based on a rumor that turned out to be untrue.  Titled “Observers set to quit Venezuela,” Webb-Vidal quoted unnamed “diplomats” who warned, “it was now only a matter of time before the OAS and the Carter Center walked away - if Mr Chávez did not expel them first.” The story projected that the observers would abandon the referendum “in the next few weeks.”[vi] Webb-Vidal went on to present a list of opposition criticisms of the electoral council—critiques that would be discounted as partisan grousing if not given credibility by the notion that independent observers shared their position.  The observers, of course, had never planned to leave Venezuela, but the story damaged the reputation of the electoral council in the international community.

After Chavez won the referendum by a wide margin, and the rest of the journalistic world –including anti-Chavez editorial pages like that of the Los Angeles Times—began penning conciliatory analyses, Webb-Vidal went out of his way to highlight opposition exit polls that had predicted that Chavez would lose, without noting that the poll results were leaked to the press in violation of electoral rules and were strongly rebuked by international observers.[vii] Jimmy Carter publicly complained that the opposition “deliberately distributed this erroneous exit poll data in order to build up, not only the expectation of victory, but also to influence the people still standing in line.”  

Financial Times readers were left with the impression that the country was somehow more divided and less stable as a result of the referendum, and that government officials likely rigged the outcome of the referendum even after it was designated free and fair by international observers.

2005 Legislative Elections: Misjudging and Misrepresenting

In December 2005, Venezuelan opposition parties walked away from Legislative elections just days before the vote, when polls showed they would lose by wide margins. A week earlier, opposition leaders had gone to the Organization of American States with a long list of demands to be met before they would participate.  When the National Electoral Council met their demands, the opposition pulled out anyway, handing over every seat in the National Assembly to pro-Chavez candidates.

In a story leading up to the election, Webb-Vidal downplayed the public support enjoyed by Chavez, inaccurately stating that his “approval rating stands at about 50 per cent,” when, in fact, even opposition polling firms had placed Chavez in the upper 60 percent range.[viii]

In this story, too, Webb-Vidal committed his trademark journalistic sin: confusing his narrow world of opposition contacts with the Venezuelan populace at large:  “There appears to be no mood among the public,” he wrote,  “to mobilise on the streets in protest as in 2002 during the build-up to the military-backed coup that briefly toppled Mr Chavez.”[ix] The implication was that most Venezuelans opposed Chavez but were simply too demoralized to challenge him.

One week later, Webb-Vidal’s post-election coverage opened with this line:  “Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, yesterday awoke to hear the type of election result usually reserved for the most power-hungry of dictators.”  After a cursory quote from Venezuela’s Information Minister, he paraphrased unnamed “critics” who claimed that Venezuela now found itself “in a twilight zone between democracy and dictatorship.”[x]

The report also cited opposition activist Maria Corina Machado, U.S. War College professor Colonel Joe Nunez, and Washington-based think tank director Michael Shifter, all strong opponents of the Venezuelan government.

It is worth noting that the New York Times[xi] and most other news outlets here reported these events much more as they appeared to an unprejudiced observer: that the opposition did not have any legitimate reason to boycott the election but did so because they knew they were going to lose. That was the opinion of the OAS and EU observers as well:

Jose Silva, head of the European Union team, said the vote was clean and praised the elections council, or CNE, which had been heavily criticized by opposition groups ahead of the vote.  “For us, there was transparency in the electoral process," said Silva, who oversaw about 160 observers.[xii]

As the Associated Press reported,The OAS, along with the European Union, endorsed the fairness of Venezuela's Dec. 4 elections, in which supporters of President Hugo Chavez won complete control of congress after major opposition parties boycotted the election.”[xiii]

2006: An election year onslaught

In the six months following the legislative elections, Venezuelan opposition groups unveiled a variety of storylines and talking points to position themselves for the 2006 election.  Webb-Vidal faithfully reported their concerns and perspectives, again virtually ignoring the viewpoints of the majority of the Venezuelan people, and often without even cursory fact checking to ensure that opposition talking points were accurate.

Economy:   Webb-Vidal’s over-reliance on ideologically-driven, rather than empirically-substantiated, information led to factual mistakes in Financial Times reports on Venezuela’s economy. In a story on poverty levels, Webb-Vidal erroneously reported that the country’s National Institute of Statistics changed its “methodology” for measuring poverty to include non-cash benefits[xiv]; the information was false, based on no more than an opposition rumor.  In the same story, Webb-Vidal erroneously referred to poverty data from the first half of 2004 as coming from the “end of 2004.” Under the false presumption that the data came from the second half of 2004, Webb-Vidal concluded that a reported drop in poverty from 53% to 39.5% in just “a few months” was unbelievable.  In reality, the reported decline in poverty was completely plausible given that it had actually taken place over a year-long period during which Venezuela underwent a major economic rebound.  In 2004, the Venezuelan economy grew by 18 percent.[xv] 

U.S.-Venezuelan Relations:  Clearly the ongoing diplomatic disputes between Washington and Caracas have been newsworthy, but Webb-Vidal increasingly downplayed the U.S. role and placed the blame squarely on Venezuela.  A story published on February 21, 2006 opened fairly enough, generally describing the continuing “tit for tat” between the two capitals, but then went on to list a number of aggressive actions taken by the Chavez administration, leaving out those made by the United States.  By implying that U.S. moves against Venezuela are simply reactive, Webb-Vidal ignored the serious steps the U.S. has made to undermine the Chavez administration, from endorsing the 2002 coup government to financing opposition parties to an admitted policy of “inoculation” designed to isolate Venezuela from its neighbors.

The story quoted an anti-Chavez “analyst” and an unnamed “U.S. security consultant,” both of whom were highly critical of the Venezuelan president.  Chavez was quoted from an appearance on his weekly television show, in a way that was intended to underscore his aggression toward the United States.  Aggressive statements from the Bush Administration, while widely reported in the rest of the international press, went unmentioned.[xvi] 

A few days later, Webb-Vidal reported on a dispute between Venezuela’s aviation agency and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.  When the Venezuelan government threatened to limit air traffic between the two nations until the FAA reevaluated an outdated safety designation, the Financial Times misrepresented this as “a move that will allow President Hugo Chavez to distance his country from the US - literally as well as politically.”[xvii]  When, six weeks later, the FAA complied with the Venezuelan request by evaluating and upgrading Venezuela’s status (and thereby ending any disruption of international flights), the Financial Times did not cover this significant development.

Narco-Trafficking: In April 2006, the Financial Times published a misleading piece on drugs. The story opened with the line, “Venezuela is becoming the leading transit country through which the bulk of the world's cocaine is smuggled to the US and Europe.”[xviii] The hook for the story involved a huge cocaine bust made in Mexico from an aircraft originating in Venezuela.  Fair enough, but Webb-Vidal neglected to mention a key fact that the Associated Press noted in their coverage:  the bust was made thanks to a tip from Venezuelan authorities.[xix]  In fact, the Financial Times story had U.S. sources claiming that increased anti-drug enforcement in Venezuela was an indication of a growing drug problem.  “Greater seizures by Venezuela, they say, indicate rising amounts of cocaine being funneled through the country.”  Webb-Vidal quoted no observer who might have pointed out that greater drug seizures could also have been due to increased enforcement.[xx]

Domestic Popularity: The bubble surrounding Webb-Vidal was particularly evident in his reporting of Venezuela’s domestic policies.  Like many residents of Caracas’ finer communities, Webb-Vidal had a difficult time finding anybody who supported the president, and seemed bewildered by the 60 to 70 percent popularity ratings that Chavez enjoys.

In the rare occasions that these popularity ratings were even mentioned, they were quickly explained away.  The country’s popular and successful literacy and health care missions “have allowed Mr Chavez to compensate for dissatisfaction with the government,” Webb-Vidal wrote.[xxi] In other words, Venezuelan authorities have simply masked bad government through the cynical use of… good government.

Conclusion

With Webb-Vidal’s recent departure from his Caracas post, one hopes that the Financial Times’ editors will take some time to reflect upon the paper’s flawed Venezuela coverage.  In the interest of providing a more complete and balanced picture of Venezuelan civic and political life, the newspaper should rectify the problems described above by broadening the range of voices and viewpoints that it relies upon for information.  To continue to provide such a narrow range of voices and viewpoints would be incompatible with the newspaper’s stated goal of “authoritative, accurate and analytical” reporting.

Justin Delacour is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of New Mexico. He edits a blog, Latin America News Review, which can be viewed at http://www.lanr.blogspot.com.


[i] Quoted in Soley, Lawrence, The News Shapers: The Sources Who Explain the News, 1992, pp. 24-25. 

[ii] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “Chavez test limits of nation’s patience,” Financial Times, 12 April 2002.

[iii] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “End of Autocratic Regime: Militaristic President falls victim to Military Revolt,” Financial Times, 13 April 2002.

[iv] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “US insists it rebuffed approaches by anti-Chavez opposition,” Financial Times, 17 April 2002.

[v] United States Department of State, Office of Inspector General, “A Review of U.S. Policy Toward Venezuela: November 2001 - April 2002,” Report Number 02-OIG-003, July 2002

[vi] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “Observers set to quit Venezuela,” Financial Times, 19 February 2004.

[vii] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “Tension mounts as opposition claims fraud in Chavez victory” Financial Times, 17 August, 2004.

[viii] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “Voter abstentions to hand Chavez easy win,” Financial Times, 5 December 2005.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “Chavez and allies enjoy parliamentary clean sweep,” Financial Times, 6 December 2005.

[xi] See Juan Forero,  “Chavez's Grip Tightens as Rivals Boycott Vote,” New York Times, December 5, 2005, p.A6

[xii] “EU observers: Opposition campaign spurred low voter turnout in Venezuela,” Associated Press, December 6, 2005.

[xiii] “Venezuela applauds OAS for saying it will not interfere in internal politics,” Associated Press, December 26, 2005

[xiv] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “Chavez opts for oil-fuelled world tour while progress slows on social issues,” Financial Times, 11 May 2006.

[xv] Wilson, Peter.  “Venezuela's Economy Expanded 9.4% in 2005, Parra Says,” Bloomberg, 28 December 2005.

[xvi] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “Deteriorating ties between the US and Venezuela,” Financial Times, 21 February 2006.

[xvii] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “US airlines face ban in Venezuela,” Financial Times, 25 February 2006.

[xviii] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “Anti-drugs officials raise alarm over rise in Venezuelan traffic,” Financial Times, 19 April 2006.

[xix] E. Eduardo Castillo, “Mexico Army Finds Tons of Cocaine on Plane,” Associated Press, 12 April 2006.

[xx] Webb-Vidal, Andy, “Anti-drugs officials raise alarm over rise in Venezuelan traffic,” Financial Times, 19 April 2006.

[xxi] Webb-Vidal, Andy “Chavez opts for oil-fuelled world tour while progress slows on social issues,” Financial Times, 11 May 2006.

 

 

Appendix: Definitions and Methodology

 

While the text of this analysis covers Webb-Vidal stories back to 2002, the “source” analysis used in the chart includes only 100 stories from December 2003 to May 2006.  The stories are listed below.

A note on definitions:

A “negative” assessment is one that is directly critical of the Chavez government or its policies.  Neutral statements of fact are not included, even when an anti-Chavez bias is implied but not expressly stated. For example, in a September 2, 2005 article titled “Chavez set to extend government control over big banks,” Webb-Vidal used a quote by banking specialist Francisco Faraco to corroborate his point that the Venezuelan banking system had become politicized.  Because Mr. Faraco’s quote –"The government has a revolutionary project and by necessity that has to go through controlling the flow of credit. Government representatives will act as political commissars deciding who should and who should not receive credit”— is descriptive rather than critical, it was considered neutral and not included in the analysis.

Likewise, “positive” statements about Venezuela in general that are not political were not included in the analysis. For example, a quote in a September 2005 story on cocoa production by a grower claiming "Venezuelan cocoa is the best in the world” was not included.

 “Analysts” are defined as such by Webb-Vidal. They may be Venezuelan, foreign, or—as is often the case—anonymous.

“Venezuelan Citizens” include the “man-on-the-street” sources quoted who are not described as being affiliated with the government or any opposition organization.

Stories Covered

“Venezuela recall gains support,” 12 December 2003

“Venezuela recall election demands handed in,” 19 December 2003

“Buyers ignore Chavez fears,” 9 January 2004

“Central bank in Venezuela seeks to side-step Chavez demand,” 15 January 2004

“Venezuelan president seizes poll initiative,” 29 January 2004

“Observers may quit Venezuela as Chavez creates obstacles,” 20 February 2004

“Chavez may soon face fresh political turmoil,” 1 March 2004

“Chavez launches attack on US as opposition grows,” 2 March 2004

“Petition to oust Chavez looks set for failure” 3 March 2004

“Venezuelan violence grows as military clamps down,” 10 March 2004

“Chavez links with Castro take centre stage in US poll campaign,” 30 March 2004

“Chavez rivals dismiss capture of 'mercenaries',” 11 May 2004

“Chavez's rhetoric raises fears of conflict,” 14 May 2004

“Chavez steps up rhetoric against 'external enemy',” 18 May 2004

“Venezuela seeks arms edge over Colombia,” 26 May 2004

“Chavez opponents plan last push for recall poll,” 28 May 2004

“Venezuelan government split over bid for Chavez recall referendum,” 4 June 2004

“Chavez makes the running in Venezuela's recall vote,” 8 June 2004

“Anti-Chavez camp launches 'Yes' campaign,” 18 June 2004

“Pdvsa plans buy-back to make most of oil prices,” 25 June 2004

“Undecided voters hold key to Chavez recall poll,” 19 July 2004

“US softens its stance on Venezuela in belief Chavez will hang on to power,” 6 August 2004

“Oil industry seeks decisive Chavez poll win,” 9 August 2004

“Venezuelans in protest ahead of referendum,” 13 August 2004

“After years of divisive rule the populist president faces a recall referendum on Sunday,” 13 August 2004

“Polls favour Chavez ahead of referendum,” 13 August 2004

“Opponents cling to faint hopes over recall vote for Chavez,” 14 August 2004

“Venezuelans flock to deliver their verdict on Chavez,” 16 August 2004

“Tension mounts as opposition claims fraud in Chavez victory,” 17 August 2004

“Chavez victory eases pressure on oil prices,” 17 August 2004

“Auditing of Chavez vote begins as fraud allegations multiply,” 20 August 2004

“Chavez opponents face poll losses after recall failure,” 7 September, 2004

“Venezuela supplies the oil and Cuba sends the doctors,” 14 October 2004

“Chavez candidates win local elections,” 2 November 2004

“Chavez candidates sweep governorship elections,” 2 November 2004

“Caracas drafts terror laws after killing of prosecutor,” 23 November 2004

“Chavez goes shopping for guns and Migs as Colombia looks on nervously,” 30 November 2004

“Washington opposes Venezuela arms build-up,” 1 December 2004

“Critics see Chavez's grip tightening as Venezuela Supreme Court expands,” 15 December 2004

“Venezuelan authorities set to seize Vestey farm,” 8 January 2005

“Chavez orders Venezuela land title revision,” 11 January 2005

“Peasants 'unlikely to reap rewards of Venezuela land reform',” 13 January 2005

“US to look into Venezuela oil supply reliance,” 14 January 2005

“Chavez suspends accords with Colombia,” 15 January 2005

“Chavez threatens to cut ties with Colombia,” 25 January 2005

“Oil traders and companies factor in a Chavez premium,” 31 January 2005

“Chavez to sell US arm of state oil company,” 3 February 2005

“Uribe and Chavez poised to end crisis over rebel's arrest,” 4 February 2005

“Brazil deal spurs fears of Chavez arms race with Uribe,” 15 February 2005

“Talks by Uribe and Chavez mask mutual suspicion,” 16 February 2005

“Uribe and Chavez seek to heal rift,” 16 February 2005

“Venezuela to transfer Vestey land to peasants,” 25 February 2005

“Venezuela captures wanted union leader,” 2 March 2005

“WASHINGTON CRAFTS POLICY TO CONTAIN CHAVEZ 'SUBVERSION,” 14 March 2005

“Disquiet in US as Venezuela restocks its arsenal,” 14 March 2005

“Chavez to woo foreign allies at summit,” 29 March 2005

“The black gold that oils the wheels of government,” 13 April 2005

“Posada's arrest creates dilemma for US,” 18 May 2005

“Chavez faces claims of oil revenue cover-up,” 26 May 2005

“Chavez poised to seize Dollars 5bn of Venezuela central bank reserves,” 8 July 2005

“Dead writer's 'reappearance' boosts Venezuela poll doubts,” 18 July 2005

“Washington to take its war of words with Chavez to airwaves,” 22 July 2005

“Venezuela plan for oil income will aid Chavez,” 28 July 2005

“Venezuela to launch local debt swap,” 3 August 2005

“Chavez halts co-operation with US against drugs trafficking,” 9 August 2005

“Chavez set to extend government control over big banks,” 2 September 2005

“VENEZUELA'S CHEAP OIL OFFER RUFFLES BUSH,” 2 September 2005

“Prospect of drugs 'black list' adds friction between Venezuela and US,” 15 September 2005

“WAR ON NARCOTICS,” 16 September 2005

“Chavez puts chocolate factories back on map,” 27 September 2005

“Venezuela speeds up state takeover of agribusiness,” 28 September 2005

“Chavez moves reserves out of US Treasuries,” 6 October 2005

“US to lobby Argentina on Chavez nuclear move,” 13 October 2005

“Venezuela farmers wary of outcome of Mercosur talks,” 23 November 2005

“Spanish military sales to Venezuela set to proceed,” 25 November 2005

“Voter abstentions to hand Chavez easy win,” 2 December 2005

“Poll boycott gives Chavez boost,” 5 December 2005

“Chavez and allies enjoy parliamentary clean sweep,” 6 December 2005

“Call to Venezuela on poll authorities,” 7 December 2005

“Bronx strikes Chavez oil deal,” 7 December 2005

“Venezuela takes control of private oilfields,” 3 January 2006

“Venezuelan price controls lead to food shortages,” 6 January 2006

“Viaduct's closure is a bridge too far for travellers in and out of Caracas,” 13 January 2006

“Uribe is to foreign investors what Chavez is not,” 17 January 2006

“Colombian hostages hope to be freed in Venezuela,” 24 January 2006

“Chavez hosts ideological antidote in Caracas,” 28 January 2006

“Venezuelan banks enjoy treasuries windfall,’ 1 February 2006

“Deteriorating ties between the US and Venezuela,” 21 February 2006

“US airlines face ban in Venezuela,” 25 February 2006

“Venezuela delays ban on US flights,” 31 March 2006

“Venezuela takes over Eni, Total oilfields,” 4 April 2006

“ANGRY CROWDS BLAME VIOLENT CRIME ON ROGUE POLICE OFFICERS,” 7 April 2006

“Chavez has power to spend Dollars 20bn fund on favourite causes,” 7 April 2006

“Spate of murders gives Venezuela grisly accolade,” 11 April 2006

“Anti-drugs officials raise alarm over rise in Venezuelan traffic,” 19 April 2006

“Venezuela buys Russian oil to avoid defaulting on deals,” 28 April 2006

“Venezuela acts to secure quick increase in Orinoco oil taxes,” 9 May 2006

“Chavez opts for oil-fuelled world tour while progress slows on social issues,” 11 May 2006